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Conditional Fee Agreements: The Meaning of No Win No Fee

I have been pondering recently over the issue of funding in legal disputes.  There has been much discussion in the news recently of lawyers taking cases on a 'no win, no fee' basis, other wise known as a Conditional Fee Agreement.  Through the course of this short blog I hope that the meaning of these become more clear.I say that it is a vital point and by this I mean that it is vital to put in place at the earliest opportunity a funding arrangement. In particular for the principal reason if nothing else, that if legal proceedings are issued and served the injured party, namely the Claimant becomes responsible for the Defendant’s costs if proceedings subsequently discontinue or there is an Order for costs against the Claimant which can occur albeit rarely if the Claimant goes to Trial and loses or is awarded less on the question of liability then any offers previously made or indeed where the Claimant is awarded less in damages than any offers that have been previously made by the other side. The question of costs is therefore vital. I have yet to accept instructions and would be very reluctant to do so, where the injured party says to me that they would like to bring a claim privately and are willing to fund the claim themselves. If I am confident that the claim has a reasonable prospect, I will accept the claim on a no win, no fee arrangement (the common name of a Conditional Fee Agreement). Alternatively, the claim might be funded by an injured party’s union or trade association or indeed by legal expenses insurers as most people have a legal expenses policy, usually contained within their motor or home contents policy. Always make sure therefore when starting with a claim and do not feel shy to ask at any stage as the claim progresses, that the funding arrangements are in place, that any necessary insurers are aware of the position, both those supporting the injured party and the Defendant’s insurers. You are of course entitled to ask such a question and obliged if nothing else, to receive appropriate answers.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.