The same questions arise over and over again, and quite a few clients when making initial enquiries point out that the answers to their questions are hard to find. Hopefully this will clarify matters
Q: Is no win no fee free?
No, no win no fee or as it is correctly called Conditional Fee Agreement is not free representation. Free means pro bono.
No win no fee is exactly what it says on the tin, if i dont win you dont pay me, if i do win then you do. Of course if you do win then you should be able to ask the Court to order the losing party to pay some if not all of your costs.
Q: If you take my case on a no win no fee will i have to pay anything?
Possibly, if you have to make an application then yes you will have to pay the Court fee, this is a fee that we have to pay to the Court and therefore it is the clients responsibility. Also you may have to cover the barristers fees at the trial of your matter although i do have barristers who agree to no win no fee agreements, it is not mandatory that they agree to no win no fee.
Like everything in life there is no such thing as a free lunch. If i take the case on a no win no fee i will try to keep costs down to a bare minimum but equally if there is an application which i deem necessary then this will need to be paid for so as to ensure you have the best prospects of success. Sometimes a little outlay is necessary, but i wont ask for funds unless it is necessary and dont forget if your case is funded on a no win no fee then you arent paying me as the case progresses and in any event if you win id like to think that any out of pocket expenses will be recoverable from the otherside anyway.
Q:Im being sued can you take my case on a no win no fee?
To be blunt why not ask me the numbers for next weeks lottery??? i mean its pointless calling up and asking if ill take the case on a no win no fee basis. I need to know what the strengths and weaknesses of the case are, i need to consider what documents i need to review, i need to look over the Claim form and your defence etc assuming you’ve lodged on. I have to take account of all the risks before i agree to a CFA.
Q: What info do you need?
Well i need ideally a chronology of events, i mean you haven’t been sued because you’ve been a great customer and kept up your payments id guess, so there must be a story behind this. Start at the beginning, what happened, did you lose your job, did you ask your creditors to be reasonable, did they treat you badly or harass you by telephone? did you have a dispute over the way they applied interest? i often get called and the new client will go off about how they are being sued without covering the background stuff first. moreover when i ask the key questions they don’t have the papers to hand and this causes a delay to matter.
Q: Do you offer a fee one hour consultation?
No but we do offer a free 15 – 20 minute telephone consultation, which can give the fee earner enough time to really get a view on your case IF you have the right info available when you call up. In truth you dont need more than 20 minutes to get the info you need and ask for the documents etc, that shouldnt take much time at all as long as all the info is ready.
We also offer an ask the legal expert service which allows 45 minutes with your lawyer for a fixed fee of £99 which will be credited to your account if you decide to instruct the firm to represent you after your initial meeting.
Q So im going to have to pay you lots of money before you can tell me if you can help?
No not at all. AS you will appreciate, if you have a good case which has good merit and is presented in such a way where i can identify the issues quickly, then apply the law to the facts, i will be more than happy to take a case on no win no fee PROVIDING THAT it is over £10k. What i do get frustrated with is people who ring up and have no idea about their case, i mean they cant even tell me the basics such as what the agreement was they are being sued for!! and they expect me to take all the risks of defending their case and dont have any details or documents prepared to email me so i can consider the case.
In such cases i would suggest to the Client that they pay for my time engaged in reviewing their case, putting their documents in order and advising on the merits of their case, after all if they arent prepared to help themselves………..
Q: so what do you need from me?
Ok well there is no one size fits all answer here, but to give some pointers, firstly a good detailed chronology of events which would be ideal if you could have this ready to email over so i can look over it on the phone.
I will also need to know things like
- What type of agreement was it?
- What was the date of the last payment
- did you receive a default notice?
- did you sign a credit agreement? if not how did you get the credit card or loan?
- is there any dispute over the account? if so, what?
- Has the dispute been communicated to the claimant? if so what was their reply?
- How much is the Claim for?
- When is your defence due?
- have you made a request for a copy of the agreement under s78 (1) Consumer Credit Act ( this is the request which is accompanied by a fee of £1.00)
- Do you have any statements of account? if so when was the last statement sent to you
- Has the account been sold to a third party debt collector?
- Are there solicitors involved? if so what firm and do you have copies of the previous correspondences from the solicitors?
- Have you been contacted by the creditor excessively? calls to your work place? mobile phone? doorstep visits? have you asked for these to stop? what was the reply? do you have records???
The above is a non exhaustive list which will help me to get an understanding of the issues in your case. As i hope you will understand calling me with no info and asking me to help without the info i need will end up placing me in difficulty and will waste your time. As you will appreciate i am very very busy and while i want to help you, and rest assured if i do take your case on i will give you the best prospects of success i can, i will do the best i can for you, at the end of the day if my time is wasted then i cant help you or others.
Q: Ive heard about a thing called a “success fee” what is this?
Ok, well no win no fee means that we take all the risks, if you lose then we dont get paid for all the hard work and time we put in, all the time the support staff spend on your case is lost. So, to take into account that we could end up not being paid (and i cant think of a single other profession that takes such a risk) and of course many dont think about the fact that no win no fee means we dont get paid as the case progresses like most lawyers would, instead we get paid at the very very very end, in some cases 2 years after the client wins his case if the matter goes to Detailed Assessment, then as a consequence of these risks, we charge a success fee.
The succ fee is normally anything between 10% to 100% of the basic solicitors fees. The level of success fee is something that can be open to negotiation, it is generally subject to a risk assessment, where the lawyer calculates the risks involved and works out the percentage from there.
My cases are generally carrying a success fee of between 10% to 25% depending on the risk. Of course much also depends on the clients personal circumstances too, the last thing i want to do is leave a client with financial difficulties after winning their case for them. In short, i take a view on each case and discuss the options with the individual.
Q: why wont you take my case on, work for free, do everything on my case, pay my court fees and pay for my barrister and if you win then take whatever you get?
Yes, a true question which i have been asked. In fact when i refused i was told i should work for free and it was scandalous that i had refused. But before you get upset if i refuse to pay your court fees, let me ask you this!! If you went to work at ASDA, and ASDA said we may pay you if we think you did a good job, plus some customers like you to pay for their shopping so we will deduct some money from everyone’s wages to pay for customers shopping, would you find that acceptable? No? well nor do i, we all need to be paid for the work we do. I am more than happy to take risks with cases, but clients need to be aware that when it comes to court fees, they need to be paid.
In many cases, a fee of £155 for an application to strike out can often end up with a £10k + Claim being thrown out of court, and when you balance things, id rather pay £155 than over £10k plus interest plus costs if you lose. So its important to put things into perspective.
The best thing to do is to send me an email with a detailed chronology of events, with details of all the issues, with all off the background facts etc, then that would be helpful so i can review the case and let you know if i can assist and on what terms.