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No win no fee? What’s that then?

John here on another Friday blog.

No win no fee is back in the news, thanks to ex “fat cat” barrister, Ken Clarke.

It has been THE way that most ordinary folk have funded their injury compensation claims for well over 10 years now.

Legal aid used to be available for the less well off, but when the plug was pulled on that for injury compensation claims in the first Blair term, no win no fee was brought in to fill the void. It made it possible for the less well off in society to continue to gain access to justice, particularly for accident compensation claims.

It soon became the funding method of choice for nearly everyone, not just the less well off. Naomi Campbell even used one with her lawyer. It is a pretty democratic thing because if the claim has genuine merit, then a decent lawyer will probably offer no win, no fee, whoever you are and no matter how well off you are.

Put very simply, if a lawyer feels that your accident claim has merit and stands a decent chance of succeeding, then they are likely to offer you this arrangement.

If you win your claim then you are entitled to reasonable compensation AND to having your lawyer’s fees paid. It’s like you and your lawyer riding the same horse. If you win your horse race (case), so does your lawyer, and both of you get paid.

Fail, and you both get nothing.

Good lawyers can spot likely “winners”, but might also be prepared to run some more tricky claims, provided that they have some merit. That’s when no win no fee can work really well, particularly against big, wealthy opponents, like insurance companies, who will otherwise steamroller and intimidate the small person trying to bring their claim.

No win no fee evens up the playing field and, guess what, the insurance giants hate it. They pay fortunes to lobby and spin the media and spread fables about hopeless and outrageous cases that no sensible lawyer would touch and would never win in a million years.

If you have an accident though and tell your insurers about it, they will SELL your case, and perhaps your passengers’ cases if it was an RTA, to their Solicitors.

It’s spelt “hypocrisy”!

They turn a buck any which way.

All of the hysteria about useless and nonsensical no-win-no-fee claims being brought is media hogwash. If lawyers were taking on hopeless claims they would simply go out of business because they would just not win any and so would never be paid.

Ken Clarke (and the Con/Lib government) is now tinkering with no win no fee and, if he gets his way, it is likely to have a serious impact on how less well off folk can gain access to justice.

So, no win, no fee.

It sounds really simple, but it’s not.

Does it mean that if you don’t win you pay nothing? Well, with us, yes, you pay nothing, but some lawyers might say that you still have to pay for things like hefty medical report fees and court fees if you lose your case.

Another thing. No win, no fee tells you what happens if you lose your case, but what if you win it?

Do you keep all of your compensation, or are there any nasty little stings in the tail where deductions are made from the damages? Again, with us, you keep all of your compensation, but that is definitely not the case with many claims companies and Solicitors.  Ask them to promise that you keep the lot, in writing.

Sadly, Ken has fallen for the insurance industry spin of a “compensation culture”, which has been the subject of formal, government commissioned independent inquiries that have confirmed there is no such thing. But there is a perception and fear of one.

Now who do you think spreads that perception and fear?

You’ve got it, the insurers. Kerching.

Your premiums HAVE gone up hugely, but look at the insurance monoliths’ published accounts and see how much profit they are making and how much they are paying out in dividends to shareholders and in salaries to the upper echelons of their execs. It’s not millions, it’s billions.

That’s why your premiums are going up.

So, Ken is trying to make no win no fee less attractive and make all, including the poorest, pay and lose out on at least some of their rightful damages. It’s a fiddle.

The insurance “fat cats” win then?

Probably, but it’s not over yet and the legislative process will be bloody.

More soon, probably from Lorraine next time – I’ll get off my soap box.

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