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May 3, 2020

What is a conditional fee agreement?

The Conditional Fee Agreement is often known as CFA and formalises the “no win no fee” agreement with your solicitor.  As the client making the claim, you won't have to pay any legal fees if your claim is unsuccessful. It relates to legal services such as personal injury, accident claims and any other type of claim where compensation may be awarded. 

solicitor talking

How does a conditional fee agreement work?

The conditional fee agreement is the contract between you and your solicitor when you seek to make a claim for compensation against another party. 

If your case is won and you are awarded compensation,  then the condition of this is that you pay your solicitor and percentage of your compensation for their time and expertise. This means that you carry less risk when making a claim because you are not left with the bill for the legal work should your claim be unsuccessful.  

You should agree the terms of your conditional fee agreements with your solicitor in advance of your claim commencing. 

If you win your case you pay your solicitor and in most cases the losing party or defendant will pay back any expenses incurred. This may include things such as barrister fees, medical report,s accident reports and travel expenses 

If you lose the case you will not be required to pay your solicitor and in most cases you won't be required to pay the defendant's legal costs.

Until April 2013 solicitors were able to recover a “success fee” from the opposing side if they won the case. The government changed these regulations however and removed the requirements for the other party to pay the success fee. Law firms now charge a percentage of the clients compensation awarded to cover the cost of their legal services and expertise.

When you sign your Conditional Fee Agreement, you don't have to pay your solicitor any fees upfront and this is where it differs from other legal services.

Solicitor will go to Great lengths to analyse your case and get as much information as possible from you before agreeing to proceed. The reason for this is that if they aren't successful, they won't get paid. Benefits of the Conditional Fee Agreement is that in most cases your solicitor will take the case on if they think you have a good chance of winning. In most cases you'll also get a free consultation in advance of proceeding.

Conditional fee agreement

Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros

  • No up-front costs
  • Only pay legal fees if you are successful
  • Share the risks and costs
  • Solicitors assess the case in advance and take cases they’re likely to win

Cons

  • If using specialists as part of your case such as medical experts, surveyors or accountants, they may be unwilling to defer the payment of their fees and will need to be paid as the case progresses.
  • The costs for additional expertise may not be covered in your agreement (you’l need to double check)
  • On the off chance that you loose, you may be required to pay the other side’s costs.

Conclusion:

Depends on the nature of your claim e.g. slipping and tripping claims can often be more straightforward.

What does a conditional fee agreement cover?

As part of your conditional fee agreement, a good no win no fee solicitor will:

  • Meet with you and discuss your claim. You can fully explain what has happened and the nature of the help you need, how this has affected your day to day life and why another party is to blame
  • Assess how likely you are to receive compensation from the other party (defendant)
  • Explain the costs involved including the law firms fee structure and any additional costs for medical experts and additional legal experts
  • Discuss the agreement with you and make sure that you are happy and clear about everything before you sign 
  • This is a written agreement between you and your solicitor and is therefore legally binding so be sure to understand it and make sure your solicitor has walked you through every aspect of it before you proceed.

    You should also be sure there are no areas of uncertainty for example you need to know whether you're liable to pay a fixed fee if you win the case or is it percentage of the compensation that you might be awarded.

    You should not feel pressured to proceed and should be aware that the Conditional Fee Agreement needs to be in place before the claim commences and that all fees are agreed upfront and stated in the agreement.

    The agreement covers what percentage of any compensation awarded is to be paid to the solicitor for their time and legal expertise or whether you would just pay a fee. 

    It's common for cases to be emotionally straining and time consuming. While the conditional fee agreements takes away some of the stress and financial burden you need to be aware that your case may still take a few years to complete. 

    Does a conditional fee agreement need to be signed?

    A conditional fee agreement needs to be put in writing and should relate specifically to the conditions relating to your claim. 

    Where a conditional fee agreement is not signed, there may be instances where it is still deemed to be legally binding should you wish to dispute any of the clauses in it. Your solicitor should therefore insist that you both sign it as evidence that you both agree to its terms.

    What is a damages based agreement?

    Damages based agreement or DBA is where the solicitor and client share the risk of litigation. Instead of the solicitor charging you a fixed fee for their services they will charge you a percentage of any compensation you are awarded. In most cases if a Barrister is required, then their fees will be included in the solicitor’s share. In most cases, the amount paid to the solicitor depends on the amount of the financial benefit to the client. 

    What if my claim is unsuccessful?

    Your solicitor will do a full analysis determine how likely your case is to succeed before you start.  of course no guarantees when it comes to to compensate a shim cases and you may want to take out after the event insurance policy.

     some people are already covered for some legal expenses Existing insurance policies but if not your solicitor and discuss these options with you to give you peace of mind and 

    Conditional Fee Agreement breach of contract

    If you feel that the terms of your Conditional Fee Agreement have been breached, you may need to seek separate legal advice detailing how the contract has been breached and the extent of the loss you feel that you have incurred. 

    What types of legal claims does the conditional fee agreement relate to?

    The type of claim that the conditional fee agreements related to depends on the services that are offered by a particular law firm. Natasha Hall law we offer no win no fee services for personal injury,  medical and clinical negligence,  dental negligence and landlord negligence. 

    Related Posts

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    A Really Simple Guide to The Medical Negligence Claims Process

    No win no fee: how does it work?