The Solicitors Regulation Authority has an online guide about Costs and Legal Aid for members of the public.
In relation to Conditional Fee Agreements, it states:
- “your lawyer will only get paid if the case is successful. If you lose your claim, your lawyer does not get paid”.
Am I alone in being concerned that the SRA appears to be unaware of discounted CFAs?
It then lists a number of bullet points as to what happens where a claim is run under a CFA and the claim is successful. The first of these is:
- “you receive 100% of any compensation awarded”
Where does this come from? There has never been a statutory or regulatory requirement that claimants keep 100% of their damages. True, in the past there were many firms of solicitors that made such a promise; but this was not an inherent element of a CFA. Post-Jackson, this is now relatively uncommon.
Further bullet points state:
- “the ‘success fee’ can be up to 100% of your lawyer’s costs, however in personal injury cases, this is limited to 25% of the damages awarded (excluding any damages for future care and loss),
- the losing side will have to pay your lawyer’s costs and any expenses that you may be liableto pay as part of your legal costs,
- you will however have to pay the success fee to your lawyer. It is therefore very important that your lawyer properly informs you at the very beginning of the success fee that will be payable if you win your case.”
Remember, this guide is for members of the public. How are they meant to interpret the contradictory statements that they will get to keep 100% of their damages but, in personal injury cases, may have to pay a success fee of up to 25% of their damages.
It is also fairly obvious that the SRA is unfamiliar with the concept of solicitor/own client costs.
If a solicitor produced a client care letter with so many misleading statements, they would rightly be hauled over the coals.
And this was produced by the body which is meant to police solicitors.