No Win No Fee

All About No Win No Fee

Taking legal action is a complex and daunting prospect and one which the average person shouldn’t really even consider pursuing on their own. Collecting evidence and building a case will require expert and costly help and before the advent of the so called ‘no win no fee’ system, access to justice was limited to those who could afford it. Legal aid was paid to some people, but it was rationed and strictly means tested, and being too well off to get legal aid was in no way the equivalent of being wealthy enough to fund your own case. No win no fee was designed to bridge this gap and widen access to justice.

DID YOU KNOW: No Win No Fee has only been around since 1995

The proper term for ‘no win no fee’ is Conditional Fee Arrangements and they were introduced, in a more limited form, via the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (Section 58) but didn’t start to be used until 1995.

DID YOU KNOW: Before 1995 it was illegal for a lawyer to fight a claim on a no win no fee basis

The basics facets of the system were as follows:

In the early years of no win no fee, the ‘success fee’ – the money paid to your no win no fee lawyer if you win – had to be taken from your compensation rather than from the losing side of the case. The Access to Justice Act 1999 changed this, however, replacing any legal aid in personal injury cases with the fully fledged no win no fee system, under which a lawyer’s fee would be paid by the losing side.

If you were unlucky enough to lose your no win no fee claim then insurance taken out would cover any costs claimed by the other side. The system meant that risk was removed from making a claim and rather than worrying if you could afford to seek justice, you merely had to decide if you’d been a victim of negligence and then contact no win no fee solicitors to handle your case.

Changes to no win, no fee in 2013

By 2008 a conception had grown that the ‘compensation culture’ was running out of control in the UK. Whilst statistics showed a steady but relatively small rise in the number of actual claims the focus of certain sections of the media had created an impression of a much more litigious society, and this has led to public bodies and businesses feeling hidebound by the risk of being sued. Ironically, it was the conception rather than the reality which was seen to be the problem, but the government still opted to make changes.

In a study conducted by, a staggering 81% of respondents said they believe that a compensation culture exists in the UK. However, evidence clearly shows that there has been a reduction in compensation claims over the last ten years. In 2013, a report by health and safety journal Hazards revealed that compensation claims for work injuries and industrial diseases have fallen significantly since the start of the millennium.


For over a decade, the no win no fee system has been the basis for making personal injury claims in the UK. This video explains the basics of how no win no fee works.

The Jackson Report

In 2008 the Master of the Rolls asked Lord Justice Jackson to look into the situation regarding personal injury compensation and no win no fee claims. After twelve months of investigation he published the Review of Civil Litigation Costs, more commonly known as the Jackson Report. His main recommendation was that success fees should no longer be paid by the losing side, but should instead be taken from the compensation awarded, with no win no fee solicitors able to take a maximum of 25%. In an attempt to offset the effects of this he also recommended an across the board increase in general damages of 10%.

The timeline for the new legislation runs as follows:

DID YOU KNOW: No win no fee still protects claimants against suffering a financial loss.

What happens if I lose my claim?

In the unfortunate event that you lose your claim, you will not be awarded any compensation. On the bright side, under a no win no fee agreement, you won’t be responsible for paying your legal fees. Your injury solicitor will have insurance in place to handle instances such as this.

You gave it your best shot and you should hold your head up high! At the very least, you won’t be left wondering what could have happened.

What happens if I win my claim?

If you win your claim, you still don’t pay legal costs. However, you may be liable to pay your solicitor’s success fee, up to a maximum of 25% of your compensation (as described above in the changes to the no win no fee system).


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