04 October 2021

No win, no fee agreements are an excellent way to protect yourself from financial risks when pursuing a compensation claim.

No win, no fee agreements are an excellent way to protect yourself from financial risks when pursuing a compensation claim. It allows people who otherwise would not be able to afford a lawyer to pursue their case without worrying about a hefty bill if they end up losing. It is vital to allowing everyone to access the type of advice they need to protect themselves and their rights. In saying that, it is important to understand what these agreements entail and how to avoid some common pitfalls.

Check the estimate of how much you will be expected pay if you win the case

People often focus so heavily on what happens if they lose their case that they forget to check what happens if they win. Lawyers must provide an estimate of their costs up front. If an estimate is not included in the no win no fee agreement then ask why. If your question is not satisfactorily answered, it’s time to look elsewhere. .

Check what your bill will include if you do not win your case

Just as important as understanding what happens if you win is understanding what happens if you lose. Without a no win, no fee agreement, losing can cost you thousands of dollars, however, there are still some things to check to ensure that you won’t get an unexpected bill at the end of the day.

There are three main costs that you should check will be covered under the no win, no fee agreement:

  1. Professional fees which are charged for your lawyer’s time and advice
  2. Disbursements which include ongoing costs throughout the case like medical reports, court fees and administrative expenses
  3. Barrister fees which can be charged if your lawyer needs to go to a barrister to represent your case.

Many no win, no fee agreements will actually only cover professional fees, which means that you may still need to pay for disbursements. Choosing the right lawyer will mean that they will cover all of these fees if you lose the case.  

Check for any hidden charges that you should avoid

As with any contract, there are hidden pitfalls if you don’t know what you are looking for. Alongside payment of disbursements if you lose (which you should avoid), you should also review whether they charge an uplift on their fees if they win. An uplift fee is essentially an additional fee on top of the legal fees charged and can add substantial cost to your contract. You should check whether this is included in your agreement.

Check how the contract deals with the defendant’s legal costs

If you lose, particularly if the case has gone to trial, you may need to pay for the defendant’s legal costs. This is common practice and should be noted so that you can prepare for that eventuality. You should ask your lawyer under what circumstance you would need to pay those costs and how much you may be required to pay the defendant.

Check that the lawyer is experienced in the type of claim you are lodging

Aside from the contract, it is important that you also make an agreement with a competent and experienced lawyer that understands the types of claim you are looking to pursue. You should look that they have the proper certification, that they have proven experience and examples of successful cases they have closed in the past.

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