Complaints in focus:
‘No win, no fee’agreements

You can read the whole report here (pdf, opens in new window), or navigate round our report website below.
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Summary

Over recent months, the Legal Ombudsman has become increasingly concerned about the operation of ‘no win, no fee’ legal services. We have made conduct referrals to regulators about the way some law firms have handled these agreements. Our scheme has also made financial remedies to consumers of almost £1 million in the past year.

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Report from the Ombudsman

The last decade has seen responsibility for funding legal services move further away from state provision towards commercial funding mechanisms. As a result we now have more complex methods of addressing the cost of legal services, including directly marketed services like ‘no win, no fee’ agreements.

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Case studies

No win, high fee: case study one

Miss A was hit with a bill for the other side’s costs of nearly £15,000 by her law firm after her personal injury claim was unsuccessful, despite proceeding under what should have been a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement. The bill came as something of a shock to Miss A. Not only did the firm agree to such terms, it had taken out after the event (ATE) insurance on her behalf to cover any costs...

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PPI pain: case study
two

Ms B instructed a firm to assist her with a claim for the mis-selling of a payment protection plan on a debt consolidation loan. At the outset she informed the firm that she had been declared bankrupt, meaning she couldn’t pay any fees. As a result the firm agreed to act for her on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, taking a success fee if they won the case.

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Withdrawal woes: case study three

Mrs C had instructed a law firm via a claims management company in making a ‘no win, no fee’ personal injury claim following a road traffic accident. Initially, the case had progressed well. However, the firm suddenly told Mrs C that they were withdrawing from the case as she had not told them that she had previously been involved in a similar...

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Cost controversy: case study four

Mr D’s firm helped him to make a personal injury claim under a CFA based ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, which he understood to mean that he would not have to pay any costs - win or lose. He told us that he was delighted with the outcome of his case until he found out that the firm were keeping almost a third of the damages awarded to him...

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Money for nothing: case study five

Mr E instructed a firm to represent him in his litigation claim for unpaid contractual work. The firm agreed to act on his behalf under a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement but withdrew representation two weeks prior to the court hearing. As a result, Mr E had to act as litigant in person. He was successful with his case and received an award of around £5,000.

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Closure calamity: case study six

Mr F instructed a firm on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis to represent him in a medical negligence claim. The firm began the work and commissioned medical reports to support his case. However, eighteen months after the case began, the firm ceased trading, leaving Mr F to pay the medical experts’ costs and the work carried out by the other side.

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Cfa case study video

Model CFA agreement

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Click on the image to open our interactive CFA agreement (pdf, opens in new window)

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