We recognise that this is, of course, an important question for you.
We view effective funding regimes as being fundamental to providing access to justice for clients.
We will be transparent with you, in relation to costs, at all points in our dealings with you.
When you initially make contact with us, you will speak with a case screener who will take details of your case, financial information from you to check your legal aid eligibility, (for applicable cases, where legal aid is still available), and discuss legal expenses insurance with you.
The screener will also liaise with you, very often, to secure further information and documentation, before taking your case before our weekly Departmental meeting when the case will be considered in detail.
If we do not think there is a viable case to take forward then you will be notified of this, (with our reasons), and our screening the case up to that point will not have cost you anything.
If we think there is a viable case to investigate then it will be allocated to a fee earner who will contact you and will discuss your case, including funding options, direct with you.
If you wish, we will set up a no obligation 30 minute free interview (which can be in person or over the phone) to discuss the funding options without any obligation whatsoever.
If you are happy to go forward with a case, then it will be funded in one of the following ways:-
1. Legal Aid
We are one of a very limited number of specialist firms (only 3 in Kent) who are authorised by the Legal Aid Agency to advise and represent people in Medical Negligence cases under Legal Aid.
Legal Aid is only available in medical negligence claims (since 1st April 2013) where:
a. A child was injured in utero (during pregnancy) or within 8 weeks of birth; AND
b. the injury is neurological and the child is severely mentally or physically disabled as a result.
If you qualify for Legal Aid, financially, and on the merits, then we will sign you up to an advisory Legal Help scheme initially, followed by certificated funding to allow representation.
Depending on your means, you may have to make a monthly contribution towards Legal Aid, (which you will recover if the case is successful).
More often, however, Legal Aid is provided without cost to you.
If your case is not successful, subsequently, however, we are paid by the Legal Aid Agency.
Also your legally aided status provides costs protection.
If the case is successful then the vast majority of your costs are paid by the other side, (in addition to your damages).
2. Before the event insurance
Many people are not aware that they have legal expenses insurance cover pursuant to a home insurance, (buildings or contents), policy.
We will ask you to check your policies when you first make contact with us in this regard.
Such policies normally provide £50,000 worth of cover for your costs and the other side’s legal costs.
Before the event insurance is useful but can be restrictive and we will discuss fully with you whether you have such insurance and whether it is the best way to take forward your case.
3. Private funding
People very rarely have to fund their cases privately because there are other options to take them forward.
4. A Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)
Increasingly, most of our work is undertaken under CFAs, (sometimes known as a ‘no win no fee agreement’), backed by After the Event Insurance (ATEI).
Like Legal Aid, the rules surrounding CFA’s changed significantly from 1st April 2013.
We will explain how everything works before you enter into an agreement and confirm everything in writing.
The basic position, however, is that:-
If Your Case is not Successful
If we do not win your case then we do not get paid for our legal work at all (‘no win no fee’). Nor does any barrister we use as they will have to work under a CFA also.
The ATEI will pay for any disbursements (non legal expenses such as Court fees, paying for experts’ reports etc) and the other side’s costs if the case is unsuccessful after issuing proceedings.
So far as ATEI is concerned there are 2 options:-
a. Recoverable Premium
This covers the cost of securing the all important report from an expert on liability and causation.
If your case is unsuccessful the ATEI will pay the cost of this under this type of insurance.
You don’t have to pay a premium for the insurance – it is deferred until the end of the case. It too is insured so there is nothing to pay if you lose.
Cover is provided at premium levels which depend upon the value of your case.
Thus, you can see, that under a CFA backed with ATEI there is no risk to you if the case is unsuccessful at the liability stage.
b. Irrecoverable Premium
This covers the cost of a condition and prognosis report and other disbursements such as court fees.
If your case is unsuccessful then again as above you pay nothing- the insurers pay for the report and other expenses and there is no premium to pay as this too is insured.
Again the levels of premiums are dependant upon the value of your case.
If Your Case is Successful
If the case is successful, (through a Court judgement or, more usually, earlier settlement), then, as well as paying you the damages you deserve, the Defendant (other side) will also pay additionally most of:-
Your legal fees payable to us.
Any barrister’s fees.
- The ATEI premium- on the recoverable ATEI only.
Please note, however, that, under the April 2013 changes the defendant no longer pays the following:-
A success fee to us.
- Any success fee payable to any Barrister involved in the case.
- The non-recoverable ATEI premium.
Please rest assured that we will discuss and explain everything to you very carefully indeed in a supportive, sympathetic and professional manner, without any pressure being applied to you and with everything confirmed in writing after agreements have been entered into.
The main message is that you should not see a lack of funds as any bar to taking forward a medical negligence case.