The system replaced legal aid and meant people without a lot of money could go to law. As the law on costs currently stands for injured motorcyclists, if you bring an honest case under a No Win, No Fee agreement even if you walk away losing, you can escape with no fees.
Your legal team might be a bit cheesed off but it is the nature of No Win, No Fee. I have taken cases to trial which I thought might well lose but the impact on the injured motorcyclist’s life was so great it was a risk I was prepared to take, and if I don’t get paid, well, I get paid on other cases.
The theory is the winners pay for the losers but there are plenty of solicitors who do not have the nerve for even pretty solid cases and very few who will press on with a case they think they might well lose when all is said and done.
But when you sign up for a No Win, No Fee you give up the right to press your case on your terms. So, if your solicitor decides they don’t want to press on with your case, for justifiable reasons (even if you disagree with those reasons) you are left with these choices…
Number one: you accept the advice and stop the claim. This is unattractive.
Number two: you seek the advice of other lawyers.
In the field of motorcycle litigation there are very few specialists but these are the people who should be sought out and approached first. The point here is that whatever frightened off the original lawyer is likely to frighten off anyone who is not expert in this field.
Choice number three; you press on, alone…
While the government seem to think people can run their own cases, I beg to differ. The process of the law and the procedure that can trip you up means you enter a minefield, blindfolded and naive.
The Courts have been told people running their own cases are going to get no slack. Rules are rules and you can find them on the government’s website. Well, I can look at the electrical installations regulations but if I rewire my own house, it will burn down.
The final option in all of this is to pay privately. That is one big gamble, if the original solicitor called it right, while you won’t be paying the other guy’s costs, you will be paying your own with a solicitor who will get paid, win or lose.
There is one fundamental safeguard built into No Win, No Fee which is the solicitor cannot take more than 25% of your injury award – the pain component – or any losses after settlement. But because the losing solicitor does not get paid by anyone, pick a solicitor who you feel confident has faith in your case – even if that solicitor tells you, with reasons, why you might well not be fully recompensed if you have added to your problems by your own riding.
A straight answer at the outset is a lot more useful than optimistic flannel from a salesperson on the telephone, trying to get you to sign up. And before you sign anything, make sure the person initially advising you is, at least, a qualified solicitor. Do not presume or assume. Ask the question directly and get that solicitor’s legal analysis before you fire up a Biro.
Bike Magazine February 2022