No Win No Fee Agreements
How They Work and What to Watch Out For

In personal injury matters, we offer to act on a “no win – no fee” basis.

 

Many firms offer “no win – no fee” services, but they are not all the same. It’s important that you understand what you are getting into before it’s too late.

 

Legal costs: the basics

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 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 $2,000 to $3,000 on average per medical expert. Who pays for this? Some firms will not require you to pay unless and until you win. Many firms will. 

 

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.

 

Too good to be true? (Hint – avoid this trap)

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 (60-70%) of the winner’s legal costs. So if you lose, you become liable to pay the defendant’s legal costs.

 

Some lawyers say that under their no win – no fee agreement, they guarantee that if you don’t win, you don’t have to pay anyone, including the other side’s legal costs.

 

Be very careful with any lawyer who makes these types of promises. Think about it: how can your lawyer guarantee that if you lose, you don’t have to pay the other side’s legal costs? The answer is simple: they can’t guarantee this, so anyone making you this promise is not prepared to take your case all the way to trial. They will try and push you into a settlement because that’s the only way they can protect themselves (not you) from the possibility of a trial loss. If you don’t do as they say (i.e. if you refuse to settle) then they will drop you as a client and you can look for a different lawyer.

 

At Denes Lawyers, we are very upfront and transparent with our clients. We tell you in writing if there are any risks in your matter, and you can make an informed decision whether you want to proceed. Don’t worry: we don’t give vague advices such as you have a 50-50 chance. We tell you how we see it. (Remember, for many years, Oszkar Denes used to represent defendant insurance companies, so he knows how the defendant perceives a matter and the tactics they might use.) But we do not give so called “guarantees” when they are in fact nothing more than traps designed to get you signed up and then to push you into an early unfavourable settlement.

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.

Oszkar Denes Seven Deadly Sins that can wreck your personal injury claim

25% cap on legal costs

 

In Queensland, most compensation firms will charge you 50% of your compensation amount – the maximum allowed at law. This is very expensive. Our fee is different. We will cap our fee at 25% if we don’t have to file a claim in court. If we have to file a claim in court, then the cap is 33%.  Remember also, these are the maximum fees we will charge. If our fee in your claim is less, then we charge the lesser amount.

 

Before you engage us, we will provide you a written Disclosure Notice and a Client Service Agreement. These documents set out in detail the service we provide, as well as our fees and outlays. Before you sign anything, you can take these documents home with you, and study them with your family. You can take as long as you need, there is never any pressure from us. If anything in these documents doesn’t make sense to you, we can discuss it with you and you are free to ask another lawyer to give you advice.  And remember, no win – no fee agreements come with a 5 day cooling off period for extra peace of mind.