‘No win No fee’ but still a bill?

‘No win No fee’ but still a bill?

The Legal Ombudsman recently released a report regarding complaints about ‘no win no fee’ arrangements. Since the release of the report talk of ‘no win no fee’ solicitors ripping customers off has spread like wild fire.
But is it as black and white as it seems? Here at Michael Lewin Solicitors we find ourselves having to bill clients for money because they have broken the terms of their CFA. The CFA outlines the rules and regulations that we abide by and the terms that the customer must also adhere to. If someone becomes a client and they then break these terms they may have to foot the bill for the work done on the file so far.
Although there is widespread attention surrounding the issue the Legal Ombudsman reported that last year only 8% of complaints were related to CFAs.
The increasing pressure on firms to return to the norm – pre Jackson reforms – is thought to be a contributing factor for firms incorrectly charging clients.
The report said: ‘These cases raise an important question: what outside pressures are prompting firms to take on cases that have no or very little chance of succeeding
requiring them to resort to exploiting loopholes in the agreements?’
When a prospective client approaches us we ask them if they have had previous accidents? Whether they were at fault? Whether they have had other legal representative’s work on their case and whether it was their first claim for the accident? Once we have built up a picture of the accident checked their insurance details and whether or not the person is at fault we will then set up the claim.
Sometimes we find that later on down the road we have discovered that some clients have bent the truth or have not co-operated with us and therefore broken the term of the CFA. We then have to tell the client that they will have to pay for the work that we have done on the file so far.
The reasons that a client can be held liable in a ‘no win no fee’ contract are as follows;
If someone has made a fraudulent claim they may have lied about their injuries or staged an accident.
If someone has failed to co-operate if they have not attended their medical examination.
If they have instructed another firm of solicitors and then have two firms acting for them.
If they attempt to make a claim for the same accident twice and have mislead us.
The attention has been focused on what the solicitors are doing wrong but if a client is filing a claim without informing us about past accidents or misleading us about certain information or omitting details all together this could harm the chances of their claim being successful and subsequently they are breaking the agreement.
The client is therefore usually charged for the work we have done on their file and if they know the information that they were meant to tell us and could affect the chance of the claim being successful then they have broke the terms of the CFA and therefore may be liable.
Whilst the papers paint a murky picture of dodgy dealings in personal injury I invite you to consider the possibility that this isn’t the full story and the client may be at fault. The Fee Earner paralegal or solicitor has no choice but to charge them for the work that they have completed.
Written by
Rob Crompton

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment