What do I need to know about no-win-no-fee advertising?
If you type the expression ‘no-win-no-fee’ or ‘no-foal-no-fee’ into any search engine you’ll come across literally dozens of websites that are offering to represent accident victims in bringing claims for compensation for their injuries.
This is despite the fact that the Law Society – which is the body that regulates all solicitors practising in Ireland – has strict rules in place regarding advertising. These rules completely prohibit any solicitor from advertising their services on a no-win-no-fee basis.
This means that if you come across a website advertising no-win-no-fee services, you’ll be dealing with either:
(a) a solicitor who is deliberately flouting their professional obligations by engaging in unlawful advertising; or
(b) what’s known as a ‘claims-harvesting’ site which is completely unregulated by anyone and might not even be operated in Ireland.
Either way, you should be extremely cautious in engaging with websites of this nature.
If the site is being operated by a cowboy solicitor, you should ask yourself whether it’s a good idea to place your trust in someone who’s willing to pay no heed whatsoever to the laws regulating their professional behaviour.
Claims-harvesting sites are worse again. They’re completely anonymous and are answerable to no-one. This means that they can make completely outlandish and untrue claims on their websites to coax you into choosing them to act for you.
So does this mean that entering into a no-win-no-fee arrangement with a solicitor is against the law?
Absolutely not. In fact, the vast majority of people who need to take a legal case do so on a no-win-no-fee basis as they simply wouldn’t be able to fund their action if they had to pay their legal fees before they had won their case.
But in order to avoid becoming the unsuspecting victim of rogue practitioners, you should steer clear of any website which is unlawfully advertising to represent you on a no-win-no-fee basis.
You should look instead for a solicitor who’s fully compliant with their professional obligations to discuss with them whether they would be willing to enter into a no-win-no-fee arrangement with you.
If you’ve spoken with a solicitor and you’re confident in them and you believe that they’ve got the expertise necessary to represent your interests, before you instruct them to act for you, you should ask them for written confirmation that they’re representing you on a no-win-no-fee basis. You should also ask them to provide you with written details setting out exactly how their legal fees will be charged if you do win your case.