Your APIL accredited lawyer will usually charge you nothing for an initial consultation. At this meeting, you will find out whether you have a case for compensation and be told if there will be a cost to you should you choose to pursue that claim. There are a number of different ways in which legal advice can be funded and your APIL accredited lawyer will advise on the most appropriate way for you. The law has recently changed and because of those changes you may now be asked to contribute in part to the cost of pursuing your claim.
Conditional fee agreements
Previously referred to as “no win no fee” or CFA, a conditional fee agreement is a written agreement whereby legal fees and expenses only become payable in certain circumstances. Your APIL accredited lawyer will explain to you what those circumstances are as they will depend on the type of agreement entered into.
The most common type is where legal fees become payable if the case is won. In those circumstances you will have to pay some of your lawyer’s fees and in addition there is usually a success fee payable on top. This success fee reflects the risk that the lawyer has incurred as a result of only being paid if the case is successful. You should in most cases be able to recover most of your lawyer’s fees from the other side; however from April 2013 you will not be able to claim back the success fee from the losing party. Any unrecovered lawyer’s fees, along with your success fee will be deducted from your compensation (damages) if your case is successful.
You should always agree in advance with your lawyer what the percentage deduction from your compensation will be before you proceed with your claim. The percentage agreed should not exceed 25 percent of your damages, excluding those calculated to pay for your future needs.
Contingency fee agreement
Damages based agreements (DBAs) or contingency fee agreements are also a type of ‘no win no fee’ agreement. If your lawyer agrees to represent you under a DBA, they will be able to deduct a percentage of any compensation they recover on your behalf. The percentage you agree for them to deduct from your damages will contribute towards the costs they have incurred running your claim to a successful conclusion. In some circumstances your lawyer’s costs may be able to be recovered in full or in part from the losing party. If you lose the case, you won’t be charged a fee by your lawyer.
The contingency fee percentage must be agreed in advance. It must not be more than 25 percent of your compensation excluding any sums paid to you which have been calculated to pay for your future needs. You should also check whether the lawyer will deduct any expenses before or after they take their contingency fee as this can make a significant difference to the amount you finally receive.
Some people have the benefit of an insurance policy to cover them in the event they need to pursue a case for compensation. Your APIL accredited lawyer will check whether you already have insurance which covers your claim. The cost of the insurance premium may also be deducted from your financial award if your claim is successful.
If you are a member of a union or other employee group, your APIL accredited lawyer will check whether it is possible to fund your case.
You may wish to pay for any legal costs yourself.
Legal aid is not available for personal injury claims. The only exemption to this is exceptional public interest cases and clinical negligence claims involving severely disabled, infants. Your lawyer will be able to confirm whether your claim or the claim on behalf of your child is eligible.