What does ‘No win, No Fee’ mean?

3 November 2022

Justin Houlihan | Rees R & Sydney Jones

Justin Houlihan

Consultant, Litigation

It’s a catch phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the world of personal injury law – but are you aware of what you’re agreeing to when you enter into a ‘No Win, No Fee’ arrangement?

The ‘No Win, No Fee’ basics

At the simplest level, a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement assures you that if your claim is not successful, you will not be charged fees by your lawyer. This is offered by many law firms to alleviate the risk you may face by pursuing a claim. It is usually offered in situations where the firm feels confident that based on the facts of the claim provided by you, they will be able to reach a successful outcome in the matter.

How is a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement established?

When you hire a lawyer, you’ll be asked to enter into a costs agreement, which outlines how fees and expenses will be applied. An agreement that incorporates a ‘No Win, No Fee’ principle is a form of a conditional costs agreement.

What makes a claim ‘successful’?

The definition of a ‘successful outcome’ can vary between firms, but generally means the claim has been resolved either by a negotiated settlement or by a Court decision and compensation is being paid to you. You should always refer to your costs agreement to confirm when the firm can send you a bill for representing you and achieving a settlement.

Are there any fees that aren’t covered in a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement?

On occasion, there may be fees that you are obliged to pay even if your matter is unsuccessful, such as:

  • Outlays/disbursements – these are fees paid by the law firm in order to progress your matter, such as the costs involved in filing for court, expert reports or barrister fees. Whether or not you are required to pay these fees will depend on your agreement with the firm representing you. At Rees R & Sydney Jones, our ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreements typically cover any outlays or disbursements, even if your claim is unsuccessful.
  • Other party’s legal costs – sometimes if a case is unsuccessful, you will be required to cover the legal costs for the other party. These costs are not typically covered by law firms.

For consumer protection, there are also legislative requirements stipulating what a law firm must include in a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement. This is to ensure you are protected and have all the information required to decide whether the agreement is right for you. It is vital that you fully understand your agreement, and that you ask the law firm or an independent source (such as your local community legal centre) for clarification if you are unclear on any aspects.

If you’ve been involved in a workplace or road accident, our expert team of litigation lawyers are here to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today.

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