Since 2013, 'no-win, no-fee' claims have risen in popularity. However, it has recently been uncovered that many claimants may have been overcharged for their solicitor's fees.
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'No-win, no-fee' claims have become extremely popular after the Government's scrapping of personal injury legal aid in 2000.
Currently, solicitors involved in these claims make money from winning cases, with a basic charge paid by the insurer of the other driver on top of a success fee taken from the client's damages. While the government have claimed that the percentage of the damages taken should not exceed 25%, this fee should also be shaped by the risk associated with taking the case.
Furthermore, this means that the easier, less risky cases shouldn't have the maximum 25% applied to the client's damages. However, it's been reported that an abundance of law firms have ignored this rule and apply the maximum 25% as a "blanket rate" for any and all cases accepted, regardless of the risk associated.
The result - claimants with considerably low-risk cases have had to pay the same rates as those with cases more high-risk.
The way in which solicitors calculate the risk involved with certain cases can at times be unclear. Recently, the calculations of such fees has come under much scrutiny, with a raised awareness of these unethical practices circulating throughout certain firms and costing claimants hundreds, sometimes even thousands of pounds.
Last year, a Court of Appeal ruling revealed that a Liverpool-based 'no-win, no-fee' firm was not entitled to charge the maximum 25% fee, and that instead the fee they should've been charging was 10% below this (15%).
The firm Check My Legal Fees, representing those who feel they have been overcharged solicitor's fees, have found that on average, claimants were overcharged £750, some even recovering as much as £6,400.
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There are a range of different factors relating to your case which could suggest you've been overcharged for solicitor's fees and are thereby eligible to make a claim. Some of these factors include the following:
- If you had a case relating to a road traffic accident, beginning after the 1st April 2013.
- The agreement entered on a case was 'no-win, no-fee'.
- From the outset you were given a certain percentage of the fee to be deducted from the compensation - for example 25%.
- You were not given a detailed bill of all the solicitor's associated costs as the case concluded.
- Your solicitor was recommended/referred via an accident company.
If any of the above incidents describe your experience with a case, you may have potentially been overcharged for solicitors fees, which would make you eligible for compensation.
If you think your solicitor has overcharged you, it's best to firstly pursue this issue with them. Ask for a full, comprehensive breakdown of all the costs associated with the case, and make sure you understand what each charge is for. If you don't hear back from them for eight weeks or longer, or are not satisfied with their response, you can then take this to the Financial Ombudsman, or to a claims firm.
Forces Compare has partnered with Clear Legal Limited to offer its clients the opportunity to seek a refund or reduction on the fees charged by their former solicitor following a personal injury claim.
Checkmylegalfees.com is a trading style of Clear Legal Limited. Registered in England & Wales under company number: 5990386
Clear Legal Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under SRA number 469975.
- If you are concerned about the fees your solicitor is charging you, be this for cases relating to personal injury, divorce or something else.
- If you have outstanding fees with a former solicitor and are being sued for this.
- When losing a case and being forced to pay the costs for the other side.
- If you, as a litigant in person, have won a case and the other side are required to pay your costs.
- Any other cases involved in either the solicitors' bills/legal costs.
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