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No win no fee replaced Legal Aid for personal injury compensation claims in 2000

Around 2.5 million people in the UK sustain accidental personal injuries which could result in a no win no fee compensation claim every year. As a result they may lose income or independence and face lifestyle changes. If this happens, fault may rest with somebody else other than the injured party - like a public authority or employer.

Under UK law the liable party must compensate the injured party for any loss or personal injury. In 2000, Legal Aid was withdrawn as the main means of funding for most personal injury claims and no win, no fee took its place.

Why did no win no fee replace Legal Aid?
This happened for several reasons. With the previous Legal Aid system, only those who could prove they needed funding received money for personal injury compensation claims. A claimant would have the reasonableness of the claim they were putting forward analysed, along with their disposable income through merits and means testing. If they didn't pass these tests, they didn't qualify.

If somebody did qualify, it didn't necessarily mean their personal injury claim would be totally cost-free and contributions were often required.

By the Nineties, only 40 per cent of the UK population could qualify for Legal Aid. This meant that many people who didn't meet means-testing requirements but who still didn't have enough available money could not get justice.

Since 2000, solicitors have worked on a 'No Win No Fee' scheme, introduced to continue pursuing personal injury cases. It was put in effect due to the people who could not get Legal Aid but who still needed recourse to justice.

The biggest reason Legal Aid needed to be changed was because of the amount of money it cost the Government to run - tripling over a period of seven years to 671 million.

The Government expected lawyers to fill the gap between people wanting to make a compensation claim and those able to make a compensation claim, with an increase in no win no fee claims (in which the loser pays the winner's costs). But the Bar and Law Society warned that the high costs that had to be paid in advance in such cases could prevent poorer clients from bringing claims. It could cost 2,000 to 5,000 to investigate the strength of a medical negligence compensation claim, for example.

Accident insurance products were therefore improved to enable solicitors to pay premiums on a monthly basis to cover them for unnecessary costs incurred during the compensation claim process.

No win no fee arrangements, whereby solicitors charge nothing but increase fees by up to 100 per cent if they win, have become established in personal injury cases.

Director General of the Law Society Ken Murphy says that most personal injury cases in the UK are taken on a no win no fee basis. He warned that many valid cases would not be pursued if the legal profession was not prepared to fight them.

What does the Legal Services Commission do?
The Legal Services Commission looks after Legal Aid in England and Wales for cases that can still get Legal Aid (including some medical negligence cases). It provides information, advice and legal representation to help around two million people every year get access to justice.

Read more at www.legalservices.gov.uk.

What is the Scottish Legal Aid Bill?
The Scottish Legal Aid Bill was approved in Parliament in December 2006. The powers of the Bill will create a Scottish Legal Complaints Commission independent of the legal profession.

It will also award compensation of up to 20,000; transfer the power to grant legal aid from the courts to the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB); enable SLAB to provide grants to pay for civil advice provisions and allow SLAB to fund advisors with appropriate skills and expertise to enable a wider range of legal service suppliers to provide representation.

Making a compensation claim
Our team of personal injury advisors have helped thousands of people get personal injury compensation using the no win no fee system after an accident.

We guarantee that you won't have to pay anything towards your personal injury compensation claim, whether it is successful or not. Our first rate and sympathetic personal injury advisors are highly experienced in dealing with compensation claims of every conceivable type, from road traffic accidents to holiday accidents.

If you want to find out more about making a personal injury compensation claim, you can chat online with us now, fill in the online form to request a call back or call us direct on 0800 197 32 32.