The personal injury compensation system in the UK moves large sums of money from one party to another – usually from an insurer to a claimant – especially when someone makes a personal injury claim for a rather debilitating injury. Whiplash claims are some of the most common types of compensation claims, but the process behind making such a claim results in a multitude of legal fees can leave many people unable to pay these fees up front – unless you make your claim through a no win no fee solicitor.
So what is no win no fee?
No win no fee is shorthand for what’s called a conditional fee arrangement, which is an agreement made between a claimant and a law firm that allows people with little to no cash to bypass the normal legal fees associated with bringing a claim. The agreement involves a personal injury solicitor taking on a claimant’s case with the stipulation that the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless the legal claim is successful, freeing those with an inability to pay their solicitor to still gain access to justice.
Currently, the no win no fee system calls for the winning side of a legal battle claiming fees from the defendant in addition to whatever the claimant wins as a personal injury compensation award. However, due to the undue burden this places on insurers, this system will change significantly soon; while claimants can still bring their case without worry of having to pay their own legal team up front, soon solicitors will be paid from their client’s winnings in order to prevent insurers from taking such a massive financial hit, which has been linked to rising premiums as companies scramble to recover their legal costs through their customers.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re worried about whether or not you’re still going to have any cash left over in your settlement amount after this new system goes into effect, don’t worry; the courts have been looking out for your best interests by placing several limitations on the amount of cash your lawyer can take from your compensation award. Not only are lawyers going to be subject to a cap on how much they can actually take in legal fees from their own clients, the courts have also gone on record with a commitment to increase the average compensation award by around 10 per cent in order to provide a cushion for the injured – and insurers are in favour of the change since it means their overall costs go down as well.
There have been some reports from legal experts that have criticised this new plan by stating that with vastly reduced fees, legal firms are going to become much more selective about which compensation claims they choose to take. The fear is that lawyers will only take on clients that are likely to get substantial settlements in order to maximize their own profits, but the majority of legal professionals, while indeed being in business to turn a profit, have a commitment to the spirit of no win no fee arrangements and stand resolute to continue providing legal services to those who could not otherwise afford to pay up front for these same services.