Procedures for personal injury law in the UK are about to change.
From 1st April 2013, claimants of compensation under personal injury law will need to be aware of changes to the rules on the liability for legal fees and also revised caps on eligibility.
A “legal aid levy” of 25% will be taken from the award paid to a successful claimant, to contribute towards the legal fees, if they have been able to get legal aid to help them pursue their case. The eligibility criteria for legal aid in cases of medical claims, changes from 1st April, so that far fewer applicants will qualify for it.
No win no fee*
Traditionally, claimants under personal injury law who could not afford to start a claim would be able to find a solicitor willing to proceed on a “no win no fee” basis, which again, meant that the solicitor would hope to win the case and have the fees paid by the losing side.
Insurance against losing
In the event of not being successful in the case, a litigant could take out an insurance policy, in some circumstances, to cover the legal fees if they didn’t win. Formerly, it was the losing side that paid the legal fees. These fees included a “success fee” which acted as an offset against other times when the same solicitor might lose and take the liability for the fees of the other side. However, from 1st April, successful claimants will have to meet up to 25% of the success fee, since the defendants will not have to pay it.
Get clued up
It’s important for claimants seeking compensation under personal injury law to be aware of these changes, so that they know exactly what the facts and figures are before they start a claim. In particular they need to be aware that they should make provision for the fact that when a compensation award is quoted, or offered, that they will likely lose 25% of it and should do their financial planning for their rehabilitation and return to work accordingly. In most cases, claims started prior to 1st April will be subject to the current procedures.