A no win no fee agreement allows you to pursue your contested probate or inheritance dispute case from start to finish without having to put your hand in your pocket. If you lose your case, you never have to pay your solicitor at all. If you win your case, it is expected that your opponents will pay your fees for you.
To best understand this, it is important to first appreciate what happens when you pay your fees privately.
If you agree to pay privately, your solicitor will incur fees in accordance with an agreed hourly rate. There will be a charge for each hour, or part of hour, that the solicitor works. VAT will be added. The solicitor will also ask you to pay for any additional expenses (disbursements) that must be incurred.
Some solicitors ask for up-front payment. They will receive an agreed amount of money from you, and then they will undertake work. Each time they complete a task, they work out how much it has cost to do, and they will deduct the appropriate amount from the funds that you have paid. Before the funds run out, the solicitor will contact you and request a further payment.
Some solicitors charge in arrears. They will undertake work in accordance with their hourly rate, and at the end of an agreed period, they will present you with a bill for payment, before continuing to work.
In each instance, the solicitor will probably cease to work if you do not make payment. If your funds run out before the case has been concluded, your case will come to a grinding halt.
A no win no fee agreement avoids those problems.
How does the no win no fee agreement work?
With a no win no fee agreement, the solicitor still works in return for the same hourly rate, but there is a separate agreement that you will not be asked to contribute anything towards this for the life of the whole case. The solicitor will also agree to fund those additional expenses until the end of the case.
If your case is then successful, the solicitor will seek to recover the fees and expenses from your opponent. If your case is not successful, the solicitor agrees not to charge anything at all.
This means that the solicitor will run your case, from start to finish, without you having to pay a penny from your pocket.
The main issue left to be dealt with is your opponent’s fees.
If your case is successful, your opponent will have to pay their own fees.
If your case is not successful, you may be asked to pay your opponent’s fees. However, if you desire, your solicitor will be able to arrange insurance cover for you so that, if you do lose, anything that you are obliged to pay for will be paid off by the insurer.
The no win no fee agreement, along with a policy of insurance, enables you to pursue your case from start to finish without having to pay for anything.
Assessment of your case
Before you are awarded a no win no fee agreement, your solicitor will want to investigate the merits of your case. Such agreements are not offered unless the solicitor is confident of winning your case. You should therefore be prepared to provide all the information that your solicitor requests. This will assist the solicitor to make a decision.
If the solicitor declines to offer a no win no fee, then this usually means that there are significant risks in your case. However, at least you will know from the beginning that there are significant risks of losing the case. You might think in such circumstances that you have dodged a bullet.
The need to cooperate and tell the truth
Should your solicitor agree to undertake your case on a no win no fee basis, then you should bear in mind the following.
The solicitor is taking a big risk of putting in a lot of work for your case that he might not be paid for. If your case is unsuccessful because the court does not agree that your case has merit, then your solicitor will not be paid but he will likely just take this on the chin. It was a risk that the solicitor was prepared to take. However, if you do something that does cause your case to lose, the solicitor will not be bound by the no win no fee agreement. If, for example, you provide misleading information, or if you fail to cooperate with your solicitor, it is likely that the no win no fee agreement will be terminated and you will receive a bill to pay.
Nevertheless, the moral is clear. If you always tell your solicitor the truth, and you always cooperate, you should have no problems at all.
The success fee
The last thing that you to consider is the success fee.
If the solicitor acts under the terms of a no win no fee agreement, and your case is successful, the solicitor is entitled to charge a success fee.
The success fee could be viewed as the solicitor’s reward for taking a big risk of never being paid in the first place.
The level of the success fee is not allowed to exceed 50% of the value of your claim.
If you have concerns about a contested probate case, and you have questions about how to pursue your case under the terms of a no win no fee agreement, don’t delay in contacting us.
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