No Win, No Fee – What Does it Mean?

Taking action in the courts against an opponent who may have insurance and who disputes your claim can be stressful and expensive. To minimise the financial risk involved in pursuing a claim your Solicitor may agree to enter into a “no win, no fee” agreement with you (this is sometimes referred to as a conditional fee agreement).

One of the principles of English law is that the loser in a court case pays the basic costs of the winner in addition to their own. In a “no win, no fee” agreement, your Solicitor agrees not to charge a fee unless the action is successful. This means that if you instruct a firm of Solicitors on a “no win, no fee” basis, your risk as to costs is limited to the other side’s costs plus any ‘disbursements’ (such as the cost of an expert medical report) incurred by your Solicitors and the Court costs. You can buy legal expense insurance to cover these costs and you will be advised by your Solicitor whether this is recommended for your individual circumstances.

Running a legal action on a “no win, no fee” basis means your Solicitor is taking the largest financial risk. Since a court case will only take place if both parties to the dispute think they have a good chance of winning, your Solicitor will normally charge a ‘success fee’, which is an extra fee in addition the basic fee designed to compensate the Solicitor for the risk that you may lose and they do not get paid. The level of the success fee varies depending on how risky the case is thought to be, but in a personal injury claim it cannot be more than 25% of the amount of compensation you receive.

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