Most people who are seeking to bring a claim for injury compensation will want to engage a lawyer on a “no win no fee” basis, meaning the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless and until the claim is successful and compensation is actually recovered. In that event the lawyer’s costs are paid from the compensation recovered, so the client pays nothing from their own pocket.
No Win No Fee arrangements are instrumental in allowing injured people to access justice. Compensation claims are very expensive and the alternative – payment of the lawyer’s costs and expenses by the client from their own funds – is out of the reach of most people. The offering of no win no fee terms is accordingly a valuable initiative by the legal profession.
But the fact that a lawyer offers no win no fee terms should not be an excuse for excessive charging. “No win no fee” is not a unique or unusual offering among injury compensation lawyers – in fact the overwhelming majority of injury compensation lawyers offer it. So for the injured person choosing a lawyer, the most important issue is not whether they can find a no win no fee lawyer. That should be more or less a given. Instead the question should be, with the particular no win no fee terms being offered, what am I going to be left with at the end of my claim?
Because it is a sad fact that “no win no fee” has been used by unscrupulous lawyers to justify charging exorbitant legal costs, even to the point where the lawyer ends up with significantly more than the client at the end of the claim. This is unacceptable. Given that an injured person will usually only have one chance at making a claim, it is absolutely essential that the client’s “in hand” payment at the end of the claim is maximised.
At vbr Lawyers we are determined to ensure that it is our clients, and not us, are the ones that benefit most from their claims. These are not mere words – we use three specific measures to achieve this in every case we handle.
First, our hourly rates are considerably lower than most of our major competitors. We can do this because our overheads are lower. We do not use expensive CBD office space. We do not use large teams of lawyers to record time on each file and thus inflate the charges. We are not listed on the stock market so we do not have a share price to maintain by constantly ramping up profits.
Second, we do not charge uplift fees. Legal regulations permit lawyers in no win no fee cases to charge up to an additional 25% on top of their bill for professional charges. This is meant to be an additional allowance where cases are particularly complex, but unfortunately it has been applied by some firms across the board in every single case whether complex or not. We wish to completely distance ourselves from this practice and we have abandoned reliance on uplift fees altogether.
Third, we apply a 30% cap to our professional fees, meaning that our professional fees cannot exceed 30% of the net compensation amount after deduction of refunds and legal expenses, or disbursements. Legal regulations allow a cap of 50%, but we think that is too high. Actually in many cases a costs contribution will be recovered in addition to the compensation amount which will mean that the impact of costs on the compensation amount will be nothing like 30%.
With these measures in place, we at vbr lawyers are not just offering a no win no fee service, but a no win no fee service that ensures that every one of our clients receives the compensation that they are justly entitled to.
This blog was written by John Vandeleur, Legal Practitioner Director
Phone: 07 3379 2513 or Toll Free 1800 316 716