Explain what is meant by a conditional fee agreement and when it is used; and (ii) Describe the other ways of funding legal help and representation when bringing a civil claim. Introduction Going to court can be a very expensive procedure, especially when the person in question has insufficient funds to cover all of the expenses. These include the solicitors cost and (in a situation that they lose the case) all of the opposing sides expenditures along with the fee they are being ordered to pay.
This means that many people who have a strong and deserving case don't follow it up because of the risk of losing and having to pay the other sides' costs as well as their own. To help get rid of this problem the government developed conditional fee agreements. But not all legal problems require representation in court. Some situations can be settled outside of court, saving unnecessary hassle and expense. Other organisations and help centres have been set up to help people with legal advice and to give them general information. I will discuss these places in further detail later on in my essay.
Conditional Fee Agreements In 1990 section 58 of the legal services act allowed conditional fee agreements to help people in situations I have previously mentioned, but only in cases of personal injury, insolvency and human rights. In 1998 conditional fee agreements were extended to cover all civil cases except family. Conditional fee agreements support a substantial part of the access to justice act of 1999 (which established a community legal service providing services such as general information and legal advice) which helps the governments strategy for funding civil cases.
They are quite important as people who have been denied legal funding (for reasons I will go in to later) instead opt for conditional fee agreements. Under a conditional fee agreement the solicitor may agree to take on the case on a 'no win no fee' basis. If the client loses the case then they don't have to pay the solicitors costs (but still have to pay the other sides costs). In the case that they win they not only have to pay their solicitors costs but also a 'success fee'. The success fee is determined by how likely the outcome of the case will be.
If the client is more likely to win than not the success fee will probably be rather low but if the outcome of the case is more difficult to envisage then the success fee may be more expensive. The success fee can be up to 100% of the agreed normal fee. However, there is a cap that the success fee cannot be more than 25% of the damages won by the client. As the success fee is seen as an extra fee it didn't used to be possible to claim it back from the losing party, but the access to justice act 1999 allows the courts to order the losing party to pay the amount of the success fee.
An interesting case to do with success fees is Callery v Gray. In this case the court of appeal rule that a 20% success fee was the maximum that the defendant would normally be ordered to pay in a straightforward personal injury case. They also said that if a case was settled at a very early stage the figure could be as low as 5%. So because of this confusing ruling, new laws were laid out in June 2004. These laws stated that insurers of the defendant will have to pay 12. 5% success fee if they win cases that settle of court however cases that go to trial can claim a 100% success fee. There is still a problem with the no win no fee cases.
Yes the client won't have to pay his or her own solicitor if they lose, but they will still have to pay the other side's costs and expenditures. This is when insurance premiums are used. This is a protection against losing the case. The insurance has to be paid in advance of the case starting even if, in the end, the case is won. Insurance premiums are expensive and can be a problem for people who have little money. The expense of insurance premiums never used to be able to be claimed from the losing side, but because of section 29 of the access to justice act 1999 now they can be (if the judge orders it).
Conditional fee agreements are used only in civil cases. They are normally used by people who cannot afford the expense of a solicitor but nobody is excluded (except if it's a family case). Other Organisations and Help Centres As I have mentioned before, free advice can be obtained from a number of agencies. Some of them specialise in a particular are of law, others give general advice. The Legal Services Commission introduced the most prominent organisations. These are the Community Legal Service Fund and the Criminal Defence Service (I shall not go on to describe this, because the question does not ask me to do so).
These were introduced in order to allow everyone access to Justice. The criminal defence service is concentrated on criminal cases whilst the Community Legal Service Fund is concentrated on civil cases. The Community Legal Service and the Community Legal Service Fund The community legal service is for matters concerning civil law. They provide such services as free legal advice, general information on the points of law, services of non-lawyers and also representation by lawyers.
This service is funded by the Community Legal Services Fund. This fund is kept going by the legal services commission from money paid to the commission by the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor is responsible for determining the budget for each year. Unlike the old legal aid system, which didn't have a set limit and provided funds for any case that qualified, the C. L. S. F does. This means that it is possible for people to be refused help (even with a deserving case) due to insufficient funds.