We recognise that the prospect of spending money on legal advice and perhaps Court action can be an intimidating one for clients. Solicitors charge for the work they do for their clients according to the time they spend. Defamation Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers have an hourly rate calculated on the basis of their specialist skills and experience.

Our Approach to Defamation Legal Costs

When you approach us for legal advice on Defamation, Libel or Slander, we will provide you with a letter setting out our terms of business and showing the hourly rates charged by each of the Lawyers who may deal with your case.

We will also try and estimate how much time we will need to devote to advising on your legal problem so that you can budget for your legal fees.

If you are pursuing or defending a complicated Defamation claim, then we will revise our costs estimates as the case progresses.

Legal aid (or legal assistance, as it is now called) has never been available for defamation cases. This means you will be personally responsible for the legal fees which you incur with us for the work we do on your behalf.

However, there are three very important points about defamation legal costs and funding which anyone who requires legal advice should know about:

1. No Win, No Fee Defamation Claims

If you are pursuing or defending a claim and the merits and prospects of success of your defamation case are sufficiently good, then we may offer to represent you under what is called a “Conditional Fee Agreement” which is commonly known as a “No Win, No Fee” arrangement.

It means that you will not be liable for the Solicitor’s costs you incur with Slater and Gordon Lawyers if you lose your defamation case.

However, it's important to be aware that if you lose a Court action, even if we are acting under a Conditional Fee Agreement, you will almost certainly be ordered to pay your opponent’s legal costs.

You will also remain liable for items such as Court fees and Barrister’s costs (unless the Barrister we instruct also agrees to represent you) under a Conditional Fee Agreement.

2. Costs of a Defamation Court Action

If you are pursuing or defending a defamation Court action, then when it's decided, the Court will usually order that the unsuccessful party pays the successful party’s reasonable legal costs.

This means that if you win your defamation claim, you can expect to recover most of your legal costs from your opponent. If we are acting for you under a CFA, then we will only get paid if you win your case and get a costs order in your favour.

Typically, when you lose a case you will be liable to pay both your own legal costs and those of your opponent. However, with a Conditional Fee Agreement in place, even if you lose you will not pay Slater and Gordon, but you will still face the expense of paying the others side's legal costs. The financial stakes for contested litigation are high.

Conditional Fee Agreement Procedure Explained

We’ve explained how the Conditional Fee Agreement or No Win No Fee arrangement works already, but how do we decide whether or not to take your case on a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).

We look at each individual defamation case on its own merits and weigh up the strengths and weaknesses. We have summarised our approach in stages below to help you understand better.

  • Information about your defamation claim

We will obtain information about your defamation claim such as, is there any truth in what was said in the publication you have complained about, are there any documents that help your case and equally any which weaken it? Who is your opponent? What is their financial status, i.e. is there any point claiming against them? When and where was the publication made? We will identify any potential issues such as if you were not named in the publication, in which case we would have to be confident that you had credible witnesses who could identify you. 

  • Meeting

Three of our defamation experts will meet to discuss all of this information and will decide either to accept or reject your case on a Conditional Fee Agreement if we feel there is a 50% or more chance that your claim would be successful. 

  • Decision

Our decision will be explained to you by the Defamation Solicitor working on your case and all the forms and documents that we are obliged to complete by law will be explained clearly to you before we both sign the agreement.

  • Insurance

If we have discussed obtaining insurance against any risks we will submit the proposal form at this stage. 

  • Counsel

If we will be instructing a Barrister on your case, we may also enter into a Conditional Fee Agreement with them. 

  • Updates

Regular reviews will be taken by our internal defamation team as your case progresses.

How does Slater and Gordon decide whether my claim is suitable for a CFA?

We’ve explained the basics of how a CFA operates in practice and, should your claim be suitable, we will take you through the agreement and the practicalities in more detail. How do we decide whether or not to take your case on a CFA?

As experienced practitioners we can in some instances come to a decision quickly but there are often a lot of factors we would need to consider when making this assessment. We will examine each individual case both on its own merits and in the ‘real world’; weighing up the strengths and weaknesses and paying attention to the wider factual and commercial context.

Defamation claims are as varied as our clients so we do not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to making these decisions. We have outlined below some of the information we might require and set out some of the factors we might consider and the steps we often take:

What, where, who & when?

Initially a New Client Adviser will talk to you and establish the factual circumstances of your complaint, for example:

  • What, precisely, was published about you? 
  • Where was the publication: in a newspaper, online or elsewhere? 
  • Was publication in the UK or abroad? 
  • Who is responsible for the publication: an individual or a media company? 
  • When did the publication appear? Recently or more than a year ago?

We would likely go on to ask a few more questions, such as:

  • Is there any truth in the allegation?
  • How many people would be likely to have viewed the publication?
  • Are there any documents or witnesses that could help or hinder your case? 
  • Will there be any issues identifying you?

From gathering information such as this, it is possible that we will be able to inform whether a CFA is appropriate for your case.

We may also ask you to send us a copy of the publication complained of and any relevant documents and one of our defamation team will go on to consider the matter in more detail. If they think that, among other things, your potential claim has both a reasonable prospect of success and a reasonable prospect of costs recovery they can submit your case to our CFA committee who will further consider the matter and make a decision.

If we decide that a CFA is appropriate for your case one of our team will explain the effects of this in more detail and you will have time to consider the advice you have received. At this stage it may also be appropriate for us to advise more fully in respect of ATE Insurance and potentially submit a proposal form. Further, we would explore the requirement for Counsel and we may also enter into a CFA with them.

In the event that a CFA is not suitable for your claim we will inform you of this decision and, where appropriate, we may explore other funding options with you.

3. Insurance

It is possible to protect yourself against the risk of paying your opponent’s legal costs by taking out an insurance policy which will be triggered if a costs order is made against you.

The way in which the insurance premiums are calculated and payable on such policies is complicated. Slater and Gordon Lawyers has a good relationship with various insurance providers and can advise you on this important area, which could help to mitigate or cap your potential financial exposure in the event that you lose your case.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide immediate legal representation anywhere in the UK.

For more details call our Defamation Solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9081 or contact us online.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers is one of the UK's largest and well known law firms with offices in London, Manchester, Watford, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Preston, Wakefield and Wrexham.