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I Cant Afford to go to Court

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Litigation is not for the faint-hearted. It can be time-consuming, stressful and expensive. Yet surely you have a right of access to the courts to make your claim or enforce your rights?

With the decline of legal aid, other means of helping clients have come to the fore. Everyone has, at least, heard of “no win, no fee” arrangements but you could be forgiven for being confused about the funding options.  Such is the pace of change that lawyers struggle to keep abreast of developments.

The first thing to consider is whether someone else may pay.

Policies of insurance often include provision for legal fees. So check the terms of your motor, household, travel or commercial insurances.

You may be a member of an organisation, such as Trade Union, that offers some legal support.

Your case may be one of the dwindling areas of law remaining with the scope of Legal Aid. See Ministry of Justice website.

A “no win, no fee” arrangement may refer to a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) or to a Damages Based Agreement (DBA).

In the case of CFA, all or part of the legal fee is conditional in that it becomes payable only in the event of a successful outcome. In those circumstances there will also be an additional success fee payable.  Since 1st April 2013, the success fee is no longer recoverable from the losing side and is therefore an expense that will fall entirely to the successful client.

A DBA is a contingency fee agreement under which the payment for legal fees is determined as a percentage of the damages (compensation) recovered.  Since 1st April 2013, such agreements are now permitted in most litigation – though not in family matters or criminal proceedings.

Of course, the risk in court proceedings is not only in respect of the client’s own legal costs but also that of facing a bill for the other party’s costs if the case is unsuccessful.  That risk may be covered by a policy of insurance – ‘After the Event’ (ATE) insurance.  From 1st April 2013, the premium paid for such insurance is no longer recoverable from the other side in the event that the claim is successful.

Finally, in some cases, it may be possible to find a 3rd party funder. This is a commercial arrangement under which the funder pays all or part of the legal fees in return for a share of the proceeds when the claim is won (or settled).

If you are involved in a dispute, or perhaps have had an accident that was not your fault, speak to the SWLaw Litigation team who will be happy to help you decide how (and whether) to take matters forward. We have experience of a broad range of contentious matters including :  property disputes, contract claims, negligence actions (including professional negligence), contested Wills  as well as employment claims, debt recovery and other disputes.