When asked about his nationality, legendary Scottish fiddler, Johnny Cunningham, liked to tell people that he was half Scottish and half Irish.
This explained, he said, why half of him wanted to drink all the time and the other half never wanted to pay for it.
Everyone prefers a free option if it’s realistic…
…and cost is one important aspect of personal injury compensation claims.
What is it that personal injury clients want?
In many cases they will say that it’s about “justice”. It’s the principle of the thing.
In practice, what this boils down to is questions about how much your claim is likely to be worth and how long it is all likely to take to get justice for you.
From the solicitor’s point of view, the main question tends to be: “Is there a claim?” – Will we be able to prove someone caused your injury by negligence?
And, of course, another important question you’ll have is: “How much is it going to cost me to get help from this solicitor?
Cost questions are something which the Law Society of Scotland has taken on board.
From 31 January 2021, Scottish solicitors have to pay heed to Price Transparency Guidance. (It’s been postponed a few times due to Covid-19).
The purpose of the guidance is to encourage law firms to take proactive steps to publish pricing information in a way that is easily accessible, prominent and understandable for consumers.
Although this website already contains some information about “costs” and how the claims process works, in this article we will try to provide the pricing transparency you need to help you decide whether to consider instructing Moray Claims at Grigor & Young LLP for your personal injury compensation claim.
Our overriding objective is to cost you nothing.
Our main aim is to provide local specialist advice in such a way that your personal injury claim costs you nothing whether you “win” or “lose”.
A problem with many personal injury claims is that, if your claim is successful, you lose about 25% of your compensation in paying for legal or other costs associated with the claim.
In most cases, our clients receive 100% of their compensation, without deduction of any of these ‘hidden’ costs.
In the remainder of this article, we will look at the three main ways in which we deal with personal injury claims.
We will explain the elements of pricing transparency in relation to each of them.
- No win-no fee – After the Event Insurance.
- Legal Aid.
- Legal Expenses Insurance – Before the Event Insurance.
Please note that this article does not deal with issues relating to medical negligence claims.
Let’s consider the first of these:
1. No win-no fee and its partner, After the Event Insurance.
Say you’ve been injured in an accident. Say you do not qualify for legal aid. And say you do not have some form of legal expenses insurance you had already taken out before the accident.
You will need to find some other form of insurance to cover you against the risk that your claim fails at a time when you are then potentially responsible for costs incurred by your opponent.
This is the classic “no-win-no fee” arrangement. Generally, it requires you to take out “After the Event” (ATE) insurance.
With the ATE insurance arrangement we are able to offer, no insurance premium is payable at all if the claim is unsuccessful. If the claim succeeds, the premium payable for road traffic accident injury claims is about £200. For most other types of accident, it is about £500. For local clients of Grigor & Young, we generally guarantee that you will not have to meet the cost of the policy premium if the claim succeeds. We will absorb that cost.
It means that you don’t pay anything if your claim fails and you don’t lose any of your compensation if the claim succeeds.
The only exception to this is in higher value claims.
By that, we mean claims worth over £100,000.
It may be prudent for more valuable claims to raise a court action in Edinburgh, say, in the Court of Session, the highest civil court in Scotland. If you agree to do that, we need to instruct Edinburgh solicitors to help us with the case and that takes the cost element outwith our control.
Whilst it still means that you will not pay anything if the claim fails, if the claim is successful, it is likely that you will lose some of your compensation. From our experience, that percentage does not exceed 10% of your compensation.
We’ve just looked at no win-no fee and ATE insurance.
Let’s move on to consider:
2. Claims run under the Scottish Civil Legal Aid system.
Legal aid is “simple” from a price transparency point of view.
The rules governing legal aid mean that it is not permitted for your solicitor to deduct anything from your compensation to pay for legal or other costs.
Assuming a successful outcome, your solicitor will be paid either under the pre-action protocol fee scale if the claim settles before a court action is required or your solicitor will be paid by means of judicial expenses recovered as the “costs” awarded to you in the court action in which you were successful – i.e. costs awarded in addition to your compensation payment.
The rules about not deducting anything from your compensation in legal aid cases apply whether your personal injury court action is raised in the Sheriff Court or any other higher civil court in Scotland.
Under legal aid, you receiving your compensation in full if your claim is successful is the rule.
That’s us covered ATE insurance cases and legal aid cases. Now let’s move to the third option we offer:
3. Running your claim using Before the Event (BTE) Insurance
This is where you have a legal expenses insurance policy which you took out in the past – before your accident.
Often these policies are add-ons to other insurance types such as house contents insurance.
If this type of insurance will apply to cover your personal injury claim, it will require some negotiation between your solicitor and the legal expenses insurers to establish what the insurance actually consists of and what it covers. This is something we will investigate on your behalf free of charge.
Under BTE insurance, you will generally get to keep all of the compensation awarded to you in the event that your claim is successful.
There will be no scope for your solicitor negotiating for a ‘success fee’ to be paid out of your compensation. Certainly, that is the way we view things here.
If we are able to take on your claim under BTE insurance that will guarantee that there’s nothing to pay in the event that your claim fails and that you keep your compensation in full if the claim is successful.
In comparing these 3 funding options, objections often come up in relation to legal aid.
One commonly-voiced objection to legal aid from some personal injury claimant solicitors is that specialist personal injury lawyers cannot do work under legal aid because it would be uneconomical for them to handle the case in that way.
The legal aid system can be difficult and frustrating to operate.
That is especially the case if you’re not experienced in the way it works.
However, we do not find that many of the supposed problems with legal aid are of much significance in practice.
With legal aid being an online system now, there are no significant delays. An initial civil legal aid application – to get cover to raise a court action once you know the claim will not settle by agreement on reasonable terms – usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to be processed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB).
We do have to obtain prior approval from SLAB before we can instruct expert witnesses or particular advocates (barristers) but the maximum delay will be of days and, in our experience, never more than one week.
One advantage to the solicitor of legal aid is in relation to getting paid. If the claim is unsuccessful, we will still be able to claim fees at legal aid rates and recover at least some of the outlays/disbursements we have incurred on your behalf. If the claim is successful, we will be paid under the pre-action protocol or via judicial expenses and there will be no charge to the legal aid fund because we will accept the recoverable costs through the protocol or judicial expenses instead of claiming on the legal aid fund (we have to choose one or the other, anyway).
Let’s move to a brief summary of what we’ve discussed above.
In most of the personal injury cases we deal with, you can, in Johnny Cunningham’s terms, “drink all the time and not have to pay for it”.
With the way we do things, the only situation where you may lose some of your compensation is in certain higher value “after the event” insurance no-win no fee claims. Under legal aid and “before the event” insurance, you will not have to pay anything if your claim fails and you will keep all of your recovered compensation, without deduction, when the claim is successful.
How we can help
We hope it’s been useful to you to read this discussion of what pricing will apply to our help with your personal injury claim in Moray.
If anything is still not clear, please feel free to contact us. Your question will probably help us to clarify the content on this page – as well as hopefully clearing things up for you right away.
Should you want to enquire about our personal injury claims services, don’t forget that you can get a free case assessment from us by making contact in the ways described above. See this article, if you want to understand more about what will actually happen if you get in touch with us about making a personal injury compensation claim.
Where a Free Case Assessment is something which would be helpful to you – and we would be local, specialist solicitors from your point of view – please make a Free Online Enquiry via this website.