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What is a no win no fee lawyer?

If you have suffered a personal injury in an accident, you might be searching for no win no pay lawyers or, no win no fee lawyers. But what exactly is a no win no fee lawyer?

Some lawyers act on behalf of their clients on a no win no fee, no win no pay, speculative or conditional basis. All these terms have similar meaning. Under these sort of costs agreements, part or all of the lawyer’s fees will not be payable unless their client achieves a ‘successful outcome’.

In some instances, those firms will also meet the cost of medical reports and disbursements which are required to prove your claim. Some lawyers will not pay these costs themselves, but will use a litigation or disbursement funder.

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What is a successful outcome in a no win no fee costs agreement?

Under a no win no pay costs agreement for legal services, the lawyer should define what ‘successful outcome’ means. Clients should have a clear understanding of the circumstances in which their lawyer will charge for their fees.

A ‘successful outcome’ might mean more than the client achieving a judgment or settlement in their favour.

For example, a costs agreement could also define ‘successful outcome’ to mean:

  • rejecting an offer for the payment of a sum which the lawyer considers reasonable;
  • where the client terminates the costs agreement and transfers the matter to another firm;
  • where the lawyer terminates the costs agreement for particular reasons.
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How does a no win no fee lawyer charge?

There are different methods by which solicitors charge for professional services rendered in no win no fee agreements. These include itemised scale fees, statutory scales, task-based fees, fixed fees and conditional fee arrangements which may include an uplift fee. These methods of charging may result in different fees payable.

Charging on the basis of time taken to do a task may result in a charge which is different from charging on the basis of a set fee to do that task. To calculate time charged, many lawyers operate on units of six minutes. The cost of each unit is 10% of the hourly rate of the person doing the work. If the time taken is less than six minutes, one unit (six minutes) is charged. If the time taken is not an exact multiple of six minutes, the lawyer will either rounded up or down to the next multiple of six minutes.

In Queensland, a lawyer cannot charge a personal injury claim client, in a no win no fee or no win no pay costs agreement, a fee which is dependent upon the outcome of their matter. So, for example, a lawyer is unable to have a costs agreement with a client which states that the client will pay a percentage of their settlement or judgment to the lawyer for their fees.

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How much does a no win no pay lawyer cost?

There are different factors which can affect the cost of legal services in a no win no fee matter. Some of these include:

  • how complicated the accident or the injuries are;
  • how long the claim goes for and the stage at which it is finalised;
  • the attitude of your opponent;
  • time necessarily taken to get information from third parties or the client.

Under section 308 Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) a lawyer is required to provide a client with an estimate of the total legal costs (or a range of the total legal costs) for a matter. If there is a change in the estimate, the lawyer is required to provide an update about that change.

Under section 347 of the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) also caps the amount of fees which a law firm can charge a client in a no win no fee agreement. The law firm cannot charge more than one half of the net settlement or judgment amount, including GST. This means that after any statutory refunds, disbursements and medical report fee costs are deducted from a settlement or judgment amount, the lawyer cannot charge more than half of what is left (including GST).

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Can I recover legal costs from the other party under a no win no fee costs agreement?

Not always but in many Queensland personal injury claims, an injured person can recover something towards their costs. The amount of costs that a person may recover from another party to dispute will depend upon a number of factors including:

  • the type of claim for personal injuries. That is, whether the claim is a public liability, workers’ compensation or road accident claim;
  • the stage at which the claim is finalised. That is, pre-court, litigated or final judgment;
  • the amount of the settlement or judgment;
  • the jurisdiction or Court in which the claim is commenced.
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How do I compare no win no fee lawyers to one another?

Choosing the right lawyer for your matter is essential to success. But searching Google for ‘top no win no fee lawyer’ is probably not the best way to go about it.  When choosing a lawyer there are many more things to consider apart from the fees that the lawyer will charge.

Some of the reasons you might want to choose a particular lawyer might be:

  • the lawyer’s level of experience in handling similar types of claims;
  • how the matter will be managed. Will you be dealing directly with a senior lawyer, lawyer, paralegal or other administrative staff;
  • whether the lawyer has specialist accreditation in their State or Territory;
  • the lawyer’s initial assessment of your claim.

If you want to compare costs agreements, then you might want to consider:

  • the fee estimate, range of estimates or fixed fee amount under the costs agreement;
  • the hourly rate of the person who will do most of the work on your matter;
  • whether the firm charges any uplift fees;
  • whether the firm charges care and consideration;
  • whether the firm requires you to pay for the cost of medical reports and if not, how those medical reports will be paid for
  • how the firm defines, ‘successful outcome’ under their costs agreement.
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How do I prepare for an appointment with a no win no fee lawyer?

Strict timeframes apply in claims for personal injuries, so it is important to consult a lawyer about your rights and obligations as soon as possible after an accident – even if you do not have all of the information or documents just yet.

To prepare for your appointment with no win no fee lawyers, some tips are to:

  • know the date of your accident or if it occurred over a period of time, have a good idea of the chronology of incidents that you think might give rise to a claim;
  • have medical certificates, medical records and medical reports available for the lawyer to review at or prior to your appointment;
  • have accident reports or incident reports available for the lawyer to review at or prior to your appointment;
  • keep receipts for all of the expenses that you incur – medical appointments, medication, travel etc;
  • be honest and open with the lawyer about your past medical and claims history.
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Denning Insurance Law assists clients in no win no fee personal injury claims across Queensland including in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba region, as well as central and north Queensland.  For further assistance with a claim, please contact us on (07) 3067 3025, by email to or by completing the online form below.


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