Terms used in legal actions
- Conditional-fee agreement
A way of paying for your case, also known as no-win, no-fee.
When someone sues you in response to you suing them.
The money you win, either in court, or if you settle out of court.
Expenses paid by the solicitor above and beyond the basic charges, to work on your case. This may include court fees, accident-report fees or expert witness fees, as well as paying for a barrister to argue your case if it goes to court.
- Legal-expenses insurance
Insurance taken out to protect against financial loss as a result of going to court.
When the court dismisses your claim or you stop the claim.
- Success fee
The amount that your solicitor will add to your bill if you win your claim if acting under a conditional fee agreement.
When the court decides in your favour, or you settle out of court.
Legal Expenses Insurance 101:
A legal dispute is often extremely costly and stressful to defend against or indeed to pursue.
A proportion of the general public are deterred from taking legal action due to the financial risks involved in making a claim.
Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) is unlike conventional insurance, LEI does not make a direct payment for a claim. In its simplest form, LEI Insurance covers the client's liability for their opponent's legal costs.
How does Legal Expenses Insurance work?
There are two basic types of Legal Expenses Insurance. They are called after-the-event
insurance and they work in different ways.
An after-the-event policy is for when you are already in a dispute, and you need to cover your disbursements and the risk of having to pay the other side's legal bill if you lose your case. Your solicitor will have to send regular reports on the progress of your case to the insurance company providing the policy, especially any offers by the other side to settle your claim.
A before-the-event policy is usually sold with other insurance (for example, car insurance or house insurance). You cannot generally buy it to cover you for a problem you already have. If you have this kind of insurance to cover your legal costs, you may not need to enter into a conditional-fee agreement.
The cover provided by this type of insurance varies but it will often pay for:
- Your solicitor's fees and expenses
- Costs for expert witnesses
- Court fees
- Your opponent's legal costs
When can I claim compensation?
There are many problems for which you might be able to claim compensation. A 'personal injury' is the most likely one for which you might feel you need compensation. You could be compensated if you were injured (or suffer some other loss):
- because of an accident at work
- in a traffic accident
- when using a product that turned out to be faulty
- because of a mistake during medical treatment
- because you were a victim of a crime
- because you tripped on a paving stone or slipped on a wet floor in a shop
- because a gas or electrical appliance wasn't properly serviced
- when hit by a falling roof tile.
Finding the Right Claims Management Company
All claims management companies (CMC's) must be authorised by the regulator to carry out business. They must adhere to a strict set of rules which cover how they advertise, take on business, deal with and represent clients.
If you are not satisfied with the service you get from a claims management company, you can make a complaint. They must have an internal complaints procedure which they must tell you about.
Before you use a claims management company, you should check that they are authorised. To find out more about the regulations of the industry, go to http://www.claimsregulation.gov.uk/consumers.aspx
You should be wary of dealing with anyone who:
- uninvited, calls at your door, phones you or comes up to you in the street or visits you in hospital trying to persuade you to make a claim. This is called 'cold calling in person' and is banned under the rules
- tries pestering you into making a claim
- offers you a cash advance on your compensation or something else to persuade you to make a claim
- asks you to sign a contract or, for example, a loan agreement for after-the-event insurance, on your doorstep or in your home without giving you time to get advice on the content. Ask to look at it for a while before you sign. Show it to your local law centre, Citizens Advice Bureau or other advice agency and ask them to explain exactly what it's for and what costs it will and won't cover.
- seems reluctant for you to delay signing a contract so you can get legal advice on the contents.