An Update on Funding
On April 1 2013, the availability of legal aid to fund contentious probate claims and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 came to an end.
This has left a huge number of potential clients in a difficult position – they may have very strong claims, but if they were previously eligible for legal aid then they are unlikely to be in a position to fund legal proceedings. It is not right that those who have good claims should be unable to pursue them, particularly where there may well be money available in the estate to pay the legal fees or where an award from the estate would lead to a profound improvement in a claimant’s standard of living.
At Anthony Gold Solicitors, we are able to offer no win no fee agreements in suitable cases so that people can pursue their claims. The firm has a long history of offering these type of agreements, and has been at the forefront of developments in legal costs and funding for many years.
The way that no win no fee agreements work is that the client is liable for our base costs (like most lawyers, we record the amount of time spent on a case and charge for those hours on an hourly rate depending on the level of experience of the lawyer involved). We also charge a ‘success fee’ on top of that – a percentage of the base costs to compensate us for the risk of taking the claim on. The percentage will change according to the strength of the claim.
We are able to quickly assess the strengths of a claim to see whether it is suitable for a no win no fee agreement. If it is, then we make the following promises:
(1) If the case is lost, then we guarantee that the client will not have to pay anything to us. They may be ordered to pay the other side’s costs, but it is possible to obtain insurance against this risk – see further below.
(2) If the case is won, then the client may have to pay something out of their compensation towards our fees and disbursements. We guarantee that this will not exceed 25% of the compensation awarded (except that if the client has taken out insurance, then the insurance premium will have to be paid in addition).
Please note that these guarantees only apply if a client pursues their claim with us for as long as it has reasonable prospects of success, follows our professional advice and does not deliberately mislead us.
The law relating to no win no fee agreements also changed on 1 April 2013. Prior to that date, fees and the insurance premium would be paid by the other side. It is now not possible to recover the success fee or insurance premium. We set our success fee depending on the strength of the claim but we cap what we will recover from our clients at 25% of damages – whether or not that covers the actual amount owing. Clients are clear from the outset about what their maximum liability to us is going to be.
After the event insurance (the insurance available to cover the risk of losing the claim) remains available, but since 1 April 2013 it is no longer possible to recover the premium from the opponent. We have good relationships with insurers, and can advise clients on whether insurance is required and assist with acquiring it. The premium will have to be paid for out of damages also, on top of the 25% of damages mentioned above. Clients will know up front how much the insurance premium will be if they win, and usually it is not payable if they lose.
No win no fee agreements are not suitable in every case, and clients may want to think carefully about whether they are the best option depending on the facts and merits of the individual case. For many clients, however, they are the only effective way of pursuing a claim and they allow access to justice for people who would otherwise have none.
If you have a claim about a will or intestate estate which you would like advice on, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 7940 4060.