No Win No Fee Solicitors in Northern Ireland
No Win No Fee is when a solicitor represents you on the basis that if you lose your case, you don’t pay any fees.
You only pay your solicitors fees if you win your case and get awarded compensation.
Though No Win No Fee is not allowed in Northern Ireland, other options are available.
1. What is a No Win No Fee Claim?
If you have considered making a claim for compensation from someone, you have probably wondered if you could engage solicitors on a no win no fee basis.
No win no fee refers to a way of paying the legal fees associated with making a claim.
Here is how it works:
- If your claim is successful and you get awarded compensation, your solicitors can deduct their fee from your compensation payment
- If your claim is not successful and you don’t get awarded compensation, you don’t have to pay the solicitors anything.
The idea behind no win no fee is that it allows people to make claims without worrying about large legal bills.
While no win no fee is mostly associated with personal injury claims, solicitors sometimes offer it for other types of claims too, such as employment disputes and medical negligence claims.
2. Who is No Win No Fee For?
No win no fee (also known as a “conditional fee arrangement”) is designed to help people fund valid and legitimate claims.
If you have been injured in an accident for example, you shouldn’t be denied compensation just because you can’t afford the legal fees needed to make a claim.
Imagine you were injured at work because your employer failed to provide a safe place for you to do your job.
You could have a very strong case, but due to:
- expensive legal fees
- the fact that it is very difficult to get legal aid for personal injury claims
- and the fact that if you lose your case, you could have to pay both your own legal fees, and those of the person (or company) you are claiming against…
…you might not feel it is worth the financial risk.
This isn’t really fair, and goes against the principles of access to justice.
So no win no fee was introduced to allow people to make claims without exposing themselves to huge legal bills if they did not win their case.
3. Are there any disadvantages with No Win No Fee claims?
At first glance, no-win-no-fee sounds great, but there can be pitfalls.
- the amount of compensation awarded does not cover the fees you have to pay (so even if you win your case, you still don’t actually get any money for it, or worse, even end up owing money)
- solicitors charging high success fees, which could also leave you with little compensation, even if you win your case
- hidden fees that you might not be aware you are liable for (doctors’ fees, barristers’ fees, expert evidence fees, etc.)
- problems arising when you do not agree with the solicitor’s advice – e.g. you decide not to settle a case when the solicitors advise you to do so, etc.
So even though no win no fee sounds like a great deal up front, it’s not always as straightforward as you might think.
4. Why can’t No Win No Fee Solicitors operate in Northern Ireland?
No win no fee solicitors do not operate in Northern Ireland because The Law Society does not allow lawyers to accept personal injury cases on a no win no fee basis.
You will have probably seen a lot of English personal injury firms advertising their no win no fee services, but Northern Ireland solicitors can’t offer it.
If you think you might need to make a personal injury claim, you may be disappointed to hear that.
Luckily, there are alternatives to that Northern Ireland based solicitors can offer you.
These alternatives not called “no win no fee”, but they are designed to do much the same thing – to help you make a claim while protecting you from a large bill if you lose your case.
5. What are the alternatives to No Win No Fee in Northern Ireland?
If you think you might have a valid personal injury claim, but are worried that you’ll get a big bill if you contact a solicitor – don’t be.
Most personal injury solicitors in Northern Ireland will provide an initial consultation for free.
This means that you can get initial advice on the strength of your case without paying anything.
Depending on your circumstances, the solicitor may recommend one of the following:
Ask for an admission of liability
If they feel that your case is a strong one, your solicitors may advise you to start your claim in anticipation that the defendant (or their insurance company) will admit responsibility for your accident. If they do, they will be responsible for all fees and expenses – you won’t have to pay anything and can keep 100% of your compensation.
If your solicitor advises you to go down this route, just make sure that you clarify with them exactly what you could be liable to pay if responsibility isn’t accepted.
Take out “After The Event” insurance
Another option is to take out an insurance policy to cover the costs if you lose your case. This is known as “legal expenses insurance”’ or “after the event insurance” and is usually taken out by your solicitor on your behalf.
Having insurance like this in place means that if you do lose your case, you won’t be left with a huge legal bill. If you win your case, you pay the insurance premium out of your compensation award.
The terms of these insurance policies vary, so you should discuss the pros and cons with your solicitor before entering into this kind of arrangement.
“Private legal aid”
There is a very limited number of providers in Northern Ireland that can offer insurance themselves for your personal injury claim (backed by an insurance company).
The advantage here is that decisions about your claim can be made very quickly, and the insurance premium can, in some cases, can be cheaper than normal “after the event” insurance.
This means that if you win your case, you would get to keep more of your compensation.
6. Are there any exceptions?
“As we have seen above, it is possible to make a personal injury claim in Northern Ireland without running the risk of getting a huge legal bill at the end of it.
A word of warning though – there are exceptions, and sometimes people can still be left with a bill for legal costs, even if a no win no fee arrangement was put in place.
Leaving out vital information
If you leave out vital information about how your injury happened, you run the risk of seriously damaging your claim.
Decisions about how to process your claim (or your “after the event” insurance policy) depend on an accurate assessment of how strong your claim is.
If you withhold vital information, it could cause an insurance company to change their mind about admitting responsibility, or could make an “after the event” insurance policy void.
So it is very important that you tell your solicitor everything about your claim, even the parts that you might think weaken it.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that if you are involved in making a fraudulent personal injury claim of any sort (for example, engineering a car accident to make a claim for whiplash), all bets are off.
Not only do you run the risk of being held responsible for legal fees, you could also face paying compensation back to the insurance company yourself, or in the worst cases, you could face a criminal law conviction (and yes, possibly prison).
To finish off…
That’s it for this short guide on no win no fee in Northern Ireland.
If you have successfully made a personal injury claim using some of the strategies above, we’re glad that you weren’t put off due to the fear of legal expenses.
If you are thinking about making a claim, we would urge you to get in touch with a Northern Ireland personal injury solicitor and ask them to assess the strength of your case.
You may find that they will be able to help you on something similar to a no win no fee basis.
If you have any questions, you are welcome to get in touch.
All the best!
The Lightlaw Team
Every effort is made to keep this guide up to date. Although it is not to be regarded as legal advice, we strive to make sure the information is helpful, accurate and practical. If you are a Northern Ireland no win no fee solicitor and have spotted an inaccuracy, you can submit a suggested change.