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If you’ve suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, Millner and Knight can help. Our national panel of No Win No Fee lawyers make claiming compensation painless.
With us, it’s simple, if your case is unsuccessful your legal costs get waived. No risks, No upfront fees and No hidden surprises.
What is Win No Fee?
No Win – No Fee, No Win – No Charge and No Win No Pay are nicknames for what’s legally known as a conditional costs agreement (CCA) or conditional fee arrangement (CFA). Contrary to popular belief, no win no fee is not a legal right. It’s offered to victims of no fault accidents by lawyers on a case by case basis depending on the strength of their claim.
History of no win no fee
No win no fee agreements were introduced progressively by lawyers throughout Australia during the 1990s. The implementation sought to relieve worry in people looking for justice after an accident that wasn’t their fault. Before this, an unsuccessful plaintiff would pay for all of the legal costs involved with making a claim out of their own pocket on a pay as you go basis. If their case was successful, they would keep all the compensation awarded to them.
How does No Win No Fee work?
This type of agreement allows you to instruct a personal injury lawyer and his/her legal team to proceed with your matter without paying any upfront fees.
Generally, legal proceedings can go three ways:
- Your claim lacks merit and proceedings come to a halt
- Your claim is accepted and you agree to an out of court settlement negotiated by your lawyer
- Your claim goes to court and is ultimately won or lost
Regardless of how your case pans out, if your claim is unsuccessful you will not be held accountable for your lawyers or the losing parties legal costs.
On the other hand.
If your claim is successful, you will keep 100% of your compensation minus any of the legal fees. It’s worth noting from your perspective, that in most cases, the legal costs are recovered from the losing party or their insurance company.
Because our lawyers only get paid if and when your case is successful it means they are all the more determined to achieve a positive outcome.
What should No Win No Fee include?
In personal injury law, the legal costs are broken down into two categories, professional costs and disbursements. An honest agreement should cover both.
So what are disbursements?
This is money the law firm has spent while fighting a case and may include things such as court filing fees, barristers’ fees, expert reports and testimonies. Not all law firms will automatically cover disbursements in their CCA or CFA. However, if a firm doesn’t offer to cover disbursements from the offset and you really want them to act on your behalf, you may be able to negotiate a better deal with them.
What are professional costs?
Professional costs are monies charged for the lawyers time, effort and expertise. While most legal firms are happy to carry the risk for their own fees, it is very uncommon that they will be willing to pay the other party’s legal fees if your case is unsuccessful. Normally, when a case is lost, the losing side will be the ones who foot the winning side’s costs.
Do all lawyers cover both costs?
The short answer is no. Depending on who you make your claim with, you may be covered for their own professional fees but not their disbursements. At Millner and Knight, our panel cover both.
What should a No Win – No Fee agreement look like?
There is no one size fits all template for law firms. Though some may be similar to one another, none will be identical. However, there are several components which must, or should be mentioned on a law firm/plaintiff agreement.
In particular, the agreement:
- Needs to set out, (in detail) what is considered a ‘successful outcome’ for the plaintiff
- May provide for outlays to be paid (possibly with interest) irrespective of the outcome of your claim
- May contain information (depending on which state you are in) regarding an ‘uplift fee’.
- Must be in writing; in clear plain language (en-au) and signed by the law firm
- Must contain a statement that the plaintiff has been informed of their right to seek independent legal advice before signing any paperwork
- Must by law contain a cooling‐off period of not less than five clear business days during which the client, by written notice, may terminate the agreement
If you have questions or queries regarding a contract that has been presented to you by a law firm you can call us anytime for peace of mind. You can also learn more about contracts between businesses (law firms) and consumers (plaintiffs) on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website.
What types of matters are covered by No Win – No Fee?
The short answer to this question is that all personal injury claims may or may not be covered depending on who you ask to represent you. For example: If you ask someone who is inexperienced to take on what looks like it could be a long and complex legal battle, you will probably find that they will not be able to offer you a conditional costs agreement. However, if you were to ask someone with years of experience who has practised successfully in that area, they will be more inclined to help.
Some of the most common claims that warrant conditional costs agreements include:
Road traffic accidents
including but not excluding:
- Whiplash and soft tissue
- bus or coach accidents
- no seatbelt claims
- cycling accidents
- drink driving
- Uber accidents
- motorcycle accidents
- passenger claims
- pedestrian accidents
- Taxi accidents
- and more
Some of the most common claims we help people with include:
- Stress claims
- construction site accidents
- crushed by moving vehicles
- factory accidents
- falls from height
- fly in fly out
- hit by falling objects
- industrial deafness
- machinery accidents
- wrong PPE
- military incidents
- and more
Matters we can assist with include:
- Birth accidents
- care home mistreatment
- dental mistakes
- GP negligence
- hospital errors
- cancer misdiagnosis
- and more
Accidents in public
If you’ve been injured in public through no fault of your own we can help.
- Defective products
- shopping accidents
- dog bites
- food poisoning
- holiday accidents
- slips trips and falls
- supermarket accidents
- and much more
Superannuation and insurance
Under some circumstances, you may be able to access monetary benefits from an insurance policy attached to your super fund. However, in most instances, you will need to have suffered a serious injury to be considered eligible.
Cases that may be considered serious include:
- Amputation and loss of limbs
- arm injuries
- back and spine
- brain or head
- broken bones
- carpal tunnel
- chemical harm
- eye injuries
- groin damage
- leg injuries
- and many more
Conditional costs agreements can not and are not applied to all legal matters. The reason being it is so common in personal injury is that the firm can easily, in most cases, determine whether or not there will be money available to cover their costs well before any legal proceedings commence.
What if a lawyer can’t offer me a No Win – No Fee guarantee?
Unfortunately, by law, law firms are not required to offer No Win – No Fee to plaintiffs. In fact, some firms don’t offer costs agreements at all. It all depends on the individual law firms’ personal preferences.
If you cannot find a solicitor who will offer you a conditional fee agreement consider the following options:
- Start a crowdfunding page to cover the legal fees
- Contact Legal Aid in your state
- Get free legal advice from your local community legal centre
- Represent yourself
At Millner and Knight, we have never undertaken a case where our panel has required a plaintiff to pay for their legal costs upfront or as you go.
If you have had your case rejected by another law firm, you can call us to have your case reassessed by one of our experts. Every day we help people with their matters when other firms can’t. You can contact us on 1800 106 107 for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your situation.
What is an uplift fee or success fee?
When you enter into a conditional cost’s agreement with a law firm, depending on which State you suffered your accident and injuries in, the person representing you may be permitted to charge you an uplift fee. An uplift fee or success fee is an additional amount which may be payable on the successful outcome of a personal injury claim.
The uplift fee is designed to compensate the law firm for taking the initial risk involved in undertaking a personal injury case on a No Win – No Fee Basis. The agreement must identify the basis on which the uplift fee is calculated however, the uplift fee must not exceed 25% of the fees otherwise payable.
Law firms must also give plaintiffs an estimate of what the extra costs are expected to be, and explain what variables determine the calculation of the uplift fee.
Can I challenge my lawyer’s success fee?
If you decide there is some kind of problem regarding your law firms’ legal fees, time limits apply so it’s important to act fast. There are several ways that you can challenge your lawyer’s legal fees. However, different states have different legislation and you will usually be governed by the law of the state or territory in which you first engaged the firm. In some cases, if your legal matter has a significant connection to another State or Territory you may abide by those laws if both the plaintiff and law firm agree.
Here are some important links if you have a problem with legal fees:
- New South Wales (OLSC)
- Victoria (LSBC)
- Queensland (LSC)
- Western Australia (LPBWA)
- South Australia (LPCC)
- Tasmania (LPBT)
- Australian Capital Territory (ACTLS)
- Northern Territory (LSNT)
The above-mentioned organisations can quickly help resolve any concerns.
What is the 50/50 rule for personal injury cases?
In some states, there is what is called a 50/50 rule which is designed to protect the plaintiff when making a personal injury claim from being wiped out financially by legal costs. It works by restricting the amount that a law firm can charge their clients by putting an upper limit on the professional fees (including GST) that a law firm is allowed to charge their client.
So why the term 50/50?
The reason it’s called the 50/50 rule is that a law firm cannot deduct more than 50% from a client’s compensation. For example, if you were awarded $50,000 in compensation for your accident and injuries after outlays such as medical bills have been deducted, but your law firms’ fees amounted to $33,095, they would only be able to recover $25,000. This means that you would keep $25,000 in compensation instead of ending up with just $19,905.
No win no fee lawyers use the following formulas when calculating caps:
- Begin with the amount of compensation, including any costs to be paid by the losing party
- Deduct any refunds the plaintiff needs to make and all your disbursements, to arrive at a balance
- Then calculate your fees, inclusive of GST which must not exceed half of that balance.
- Maximum fees = [settlement amount – (refunds + disbursements) ÷ 2]
Legal financing/litigation loans
Technically these types of capital advances aren’t actually considered loans because the advance is conditional in nature and is only to be repaid by the plaintiff following a successful claim for compensation. There are many different names for this type of funding, including legal financing, litigation financing, professional funding, settlement funding, third-party funding, legal funding, lawsuit loans and, litigation funding.
Regardless of what name has been given to such advance by the No Win – No Fee Lawyer presenting the idea to you, this is how they work.
- It is a cash advance
- Must be made by a nonparty
- Paid to a plaintiff to help them pay for legal proceedings
- Are paid back only on successful outcomes
- May be subject to crippling amounts of compound interest
Although that may sound simple enough, litigation loan contracts can be complex and confusing to the untrained eye. The legal financing industry is also unregulated in many parts of the world. This can means that the final amount you receive after the loan has been deducted can be much less than you expected. Litigation lending is a breeding ground for predatory lenders because of the large amounts of money involved in personal injury cases. To make things worse, funding companies also offer lawyers huge incentives in the form of kickbacks and commissions for them to persuade their clients to accept these types of deals.
In 2018 Wall Street banker George Soros devised a plan to securitise litigation lending promoting 20% returns. As good as that sounds to investors, the 20% ROI he is talking about is in effect coming straight out of the plaintiff’s pocket.
If you are asked to enter into a litigation loan arrangement, think carefully, seek independent legal advice or get a second opinion.
What to consider before signing a No Win – No Fee retainer?
Now that you have read this page, you should have a better understanding of how conditional costs agreements work. Never the less we have created a checklist for plaintiffs to use before entering into an agreement with a law firm.
- Do you understand exactly what you’re entering into?
- Have you thoroughly read the terms and conditions of the agreement?
- Do you completely understand the terms? If not ask for them to be explained or get a second opinion.
- Have you been made aware of the five‐day cooling off period?
- Don’t agree or sign any paperwork on the spot, many people can often feel intimidated which may affect one’s judgement.
- Is the law firm charging an uplift fee?
- Has someone at the law firm given you an estimation regarding the overall costs?
- Does the contract clearly state the 50/50 rule?
- Have you shopped around or spoke to other no win no fee lawyers?
- Have you been made aware that the defending parties legal costs may not be covered
Is a No Win – No Fee agreement right for me?
Only you can answer that question. We hope that after reading this page you will have a better understanding of how the process works. If you are still unsure and would like some further information you can call us for a free and friendly chat regarding your individual circumstances. We can also let you know whether or not you qualify for No Win – No Fee, normally within a matter of minutes.
When you call us, we will never ask or pressure you into starting your claim for compensation with us. Our goal is to simply make you aware of your rights and responsibilities as a plaintiff and find a solicitor from our panel that is best suited to your case.
The number to call is 1800 106 107
Millner and Knights promise to you
Our no win no fee lawyers are honest, professional and sensitive in their approach, and will never ask or pressure you into starting a claim. Whether you’re calling us for advice regarding your accident and injuries or on behalf of a loved one, we promise to listen carefully to your story and provide you with the right advice.
What you can expect from us
- Free and impartial advice before you decide to claim
- no stress over finding the right solicitor
- your case to be handled quickly and efficiently
- predetermined fees
- no upfront costs
- nothing to pay if your case is unsuccessful
- no risk of paying the other side’s costs
- fee % caps (so that your settlement isn’t wiped out by costs)
- most of your costs to be paid out by the losing party
Millner and Knight specialise in all types of matters and can provide you with immediate risk-free legal representation anywhere in Australia.
Frequently asked questions
Can I get no win no fee?
Eligibility is determined on a case by case basis, however, as one of the largest claims management companies in Australia, we offer our guarantee when other firms can’t.
Before a decision can be made our panel will go through the checklist like the one we have listed below:
- Your claim must have legal merit
- Without an arrangement, you would be able to get the justice you deserve
- Been made aware of the costs involved in preparing and running your claim
- You have been informed of the risks if your claim is unsuccessful.
- Have access to valid medical reports to prove your injuries if applicable
There may also be other criteria that could affect your eligibility to claim.
For more information regarding your eligibility, speak to one of our specialist advisors today.
What do No Win – No Fee lawyers charge
Different states have different legislation so depending on which jurisdiction your claim falls under will determine how much you can be charged.
Who pays my compensation?
If you have a valid claim your lawyer will aim to sue the person or corporation responsible for causing your injuries. If they can prove that they were at fault they will be the ones who are liable to pay your compensation.
In most cases, the person or organisation at fault will have some form of insurance policy in place, and it will normally be their insurance company who pays your financial recompense.
It’s good to note that the losing side will also pay a large percentage of your legal costs.
What if I lose my case?
There is no need to worry about being left out of pocket when you claim with Millner and Knight. If your case is unsuccessful, because of our guarantee the bill and fees associated with claiming will be waived.
This means there is no financial risk involved when launching a compensation claim with us.
What if my case is successful?
If you win your case, you will receive the compensation your owed minus any of the legal fees.