What a No Win No Fee Agreement means and how our capped fee works

At Denes Lawyers we represent each client on a No Win No Fee basis. This means you don’t have to pay any fees or expenses until your claim is resolved, either by way of settlement or judgment. In most cases we can cap our professional fees and can offer our clients our 25% fee capagreement.

 

What are legal costs?

The starting point is that in a legal case, we can divide legal costs into two categories. The first is “professional fees“. This is what your lawyer gets paid for doing their job. The second is “disbursements“. These are expenses your lawyer incurs on your behalf. For example, if your lawyer has to post a letter for $8.85, this postage expense is a disbursement that you will have to pay on top of your professional fees.

 

In “no win – no fee” agreements, you are generally not required to pay professional fees unless and until your case settles or you win at trial. Pretty straightforward so far.

 

However, what about disbursements? In a personal injury matter, disbursements can be significant. For example, if your injuries have to be assessed by a medical expert (they always do), this can cost $3,000 to $4,000 on average per medical expert.  (In some medical fields, experts can charge much higher fees.) Who pays for this? There are many firms who will either ask you to pay for these expenses up front, or they will make you borrow money from a lender.

 

At Denes Lawyers, when we agree to take on a matter on a “no win – no fee” arrangement, we do not require you to pay disbursements until settlement or judgment.

 

Don’t forget about the defendant’s legal costs

We said earlier that the 2 categories of legal costs are professional fees and disbursements. There is actually a third category: the defendant’s legal costs.

 

Why would you worry about the defendant’s legal costs? Shouldn’t the defendant pay for those? If your case settles, then you don’t have to worry about the defendant’s legal costs; the defendant will pay those from their own pocket. But what if your case doesn’t settle? What if it goes to trial? The general rule is that the loser pays some (approximately 50%) of the winner’s legal costs. So if you lose, you become liable to pay the defendant’s legal costs.

 

In Queensland, the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled and they don’t need to be decided by a judge. However,  we always tell our clients at the first meeting that nobody can guarantee that your claim will settle and nobody can guarantee a win at trial. Even though a No Win No Fee agreement gives you the benefit that you don’t have to pay anything upfront, this doesn’t mean that litigation is risk free. Of course, throughout your claim, we provide written advices about your chances of success and any risks, so that you can make informed decisions throughout the matter.

 

What is the average fee in a personal injury claim in Queensland?

There is a big difference between how much firms charge. In Queensland, a lawyer can’t charge more than 50% of what you get paid in the hand from the settlement.  In most cases that we accept, we can offer to cap our professional fees at 25% of your damages recovery. We can do this because we are selective in the cases we take. In some instances we are unable to accept instructions to act because even though the claim may have strong merits, the loss is not large enough to make it economically viable to run the case.

 

Keep in mind also, at Denes Lawyers, we do not charge uplift fees. (In Queensland, some firms charge an uplift fee, which means they automatically increase their final bill by a certain percentage.)

 

How capped fees work

A capped fee arrangement means that there is a maximum which you have to pay for your own lawyer’s professional fees. For example, if the cap is 25%, that means the highest you pay out of your damages to your own lawyer for their professional work is 25%.

 

25% cap in practice

The below diagram demonstrates what a 25% cap may mean for you in practice. (This is simplified, it assumes an “all inclusive” damages settlement of $280,000, that professional fees would otherwise exceed the 25% cap, and for the sake of simplicity, that there are no refunds.)

 

 

Without 25% cap

If you choose a firm that doesn’t offer a 25% cap, but instead they charge you 50% which is the maximum allowed by Queensland law, the outcome might look something like this:

 

 

Does the 25% cap include disbursements?

No. The 25% fee cap does not apply to disbursements. This means that even though we pay for disbursements upfront, in the end, disbursements are on top of our professional fees. In some cases disbursements don’t exceed a few thousand dollars, but in other cases disbursements can be large.

 

Are there any cases or situations where the 25% fee agreement is not offered?

Yes, there are certain types of matters in which we are unable to offer this type of agreement. We do not offer this agreement in medical negligence claims. These include claims against doctors, hospitals or other allied health care providers where the allegation is that as professionals, they have breached their duty of care.

 

In addition, if you change solicitors after you engage us, we will not cap our fees. (We may agree to cap our fees in the reverse situation, when you already have solicitors and then want to change and engage us. However, we consider this on a case by case basis.)

 

We also don’t offer a 25% fee cap in Comcare claims.

 

Free book offer: what to expect in your injury claim

Many firms try to rush you to sign up with them without carefully considering your options. We encourage you to first learn about your personal injury claim. You should ask yourself:

  • How do you calculate your compensation amount?
  • How should you choose your lawyer? Do you just choose by firm name regardless of who is really in charge of your matter? Has your lawyer ever argued a case in court?
  • What is a no win – no fee agreement? How much will it cost?

Our book is available to you free of charge. You don’t have to be a client to receive this book. Head to the order page and we will be happy to send you a copy straight away.

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