What is No Win No Fee?

If you think you have a claim against somebody then it is inevitable that you’ll wonder if a lawyer will do your legal work for you on a ‘no win no fee’ basis or a speculative basis.

Whilst these arrangements are usually offered in conjunction with personal injury claims, we still get asked to do civil claims work on a speculative basis.

Each law firm seems to offer their own version of what ‘no win no fee’ means.  However, what this usually means is that the lawyer will not charge you for their professional fees at the time they do the work (a ‘pay as you go’ basis), but will keep a record of your charges and at the end of your legal proceedings, hit you with their bill for fees, if you ‘win’ or your claim is settled in some way.

What I want to ensure you understand is that the charges you will then pay for will likely be significantly higher than if you had paid for them ‘as you go’. The reason for this is because:

  1. Lawyers who offer ‘no win no fee’ legal work usually charge higher base rates per hour for the work they do.
  2. Lawyers who offer ‘no win no fee’ legal work usually charge you an ‘uplift fee’ over and above their base rates, of up to 25%, to compensate them for speculating your claim and risking that they might not get paid, if you lose.
  3. Lawyers who offer ‘no win no fee’ legal work usually allow themselves to charge you a further amount of up to 30% for ‘care and consideration’, at their complete discretion.

Other things to consider when you engage a lawyer on a ‘no win no fee’ basis is that usually, you will be required to pay for ‘disbursements’, being the cost of filing fees, experts, barristers and other expenses, regardless of whether you win or lose.

Also, a misconception often stated by clients entering ‘no win no fee’ arrangements is that there is no risk to them at all. If you do lose, the lawyer you engaged will likely not cover the legal fees that will become payable to the other side you are in dispute with, they will remain payable by you. As such, there is a lot of risk to you and you shouldn’t commence a dispute without weighing up the risk that you might be out of pocket in some way.

Lastly, in your research you will undoubtedly have seen reference to lawyers claiming extraordinarily high ‘success rates’ of over 99%!! The reason for that is simple, they won’t take you on as a client unless they have appraised your case first and determined that doing work for you will see them get paid at the end.

As I said, each law firm offers a different version of ‘no win no fee’ arrangements so remember to study any proposed client agreement carefully (get legal advice on it if you need to) and remember, it is open and possible to negotiate legal fees with a lawyer, so don’t be afraid to tell ’em their dreaming and haggle, or walk away and find a different lawyer.

Just so you know, we don’t take on client’s disputes on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.

DISCLAIMER: The above article was written at a specific point in time in the past and is provided as general guidance only. It is not intended to be specific legal advice to any person’s particular circumstances who may be reading it. We do not recommend you use this article as a replacement for obtaining proper legal advice on your issue and encourage anyone reading the article to obtain legal advice to ensure the above information and guidance remains valid and suits your particular circumstance. In our experience, there is no ‘one size fits all’ to legal problems!