The correct name for a “no win no fee agreement” is a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA for short). Under such an arrangement, we can only charge you for our time if we win the case for you- so our fees are “conditional” upon success.
If we take your case as a CFA and win, you will recover most of your costs from your opponent and any shortfall can be paid out of the compensation you recover. So a CFA can be an affordable way of paying for a solicitor.
We will offer you a CFA only if we believe that you have at least a 65% chance of recovering most of your legal costs from your opponent. This means that small disputes involving damages of less than £10,000 are not usually suitable for a CFA. We cannot bring a case under a CFA against an opponent who has no money or where it is going to be a problem to recover your costs if you win.
Usually a CFA will allow us to charge a success fee if we win the case. This is to reward us for taking the risk of not being paid at all. The success fee will be taken out of any compensation that you recover. The success fee is linked to the amount of costs, which in turn is linked to the amount of work we carry out for you to win the case. This is to protect you from paying an unfair share of your compensation if your case succeeds before we have done much work for you. We are not allowed to charge you a success fee of more than the actual costs, in other words we are never allowed to charge a success fee of more than 100%. If your case includes an injury claim we are not allowed to charge you more than 25% of your compensation by way of a success fee. Where your case is very strong and the amount of compensation is quite high, we will often agree to limit our success fee to one quarter of your compensation, even if we do not have to do this, for example in a housing disrepair case where no injury has been suffered.
It is not accurate to call a CFA a “no fee” agreement because that suggests it is free if you lose the case. This is not always true: you may have to pay "disbursements" (the expenses involved in bringing a case to court). These disbursements might be the cost of an expert such as a doctor or a surveyor and might include court fees. You may also have to pay some of your opponent’s costs. It is usually possible to insure against these risks and you should ask us about this.
If you sign a CFA, you have to keep to its terms. You have to do what is necessary to give us the best chance of winning the case for you. So you must tell us the truth and cooperate fully as the case goes through the court process. This includes going to any expert appointments and coming to court hearings.