People thinking about making a personal injury compensation claim after being hurt due to someone else’s negligence should get their cases launched now before changes to the costs regime are introduced, warns Therese Classon, a Partner in the Personal Injury team at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot
Costs are anything you have to pay out for during the course of a personal injury compensation claim, including things like the fees paid to a solicitor to run your case, money paid to expert witnesses who give evidence on your behalf, plus all the costs you have to pay if your case has to go to court.
At present, if you bring a personal injury claim worth more than £25,000, you will be awarded the majority of your legal costs based upon your solicitor’s hourly rate. Personal injury claims where the compensation is going to be worth less than £25,000 are subject to the fixed recoverable costs regimes, which means that you can only recover fixed amounts of money towards your legal fees, no matter how much you have actually had to pay out.
Earlier this year, the Government announced plans to extend the fixed recoverable costs regime to most ‘less complicated’ claims worth up to £100,000. Such claims will be categorised into one of four bands, according to their complexity. The amount of costs that can be recovered will be worked out depending on the value of the claim and the band it falls into.
Parties can also be penalised under the new rules if the court feels they have unreasonably refused an offer to settle a dispute or engaged in unreasonable behaviour during the case: with a 50% uplift on fixed recoverable costs payable if one side acts unreasonably, and a 35% uplift if they unreasonably refused an offer to settle.
The aim of the new rules is to create more certainty around the costs of litigation and ensure costs remain more proportionate to the amount being claimed in compensation. However, although the changes will introduce certainty about the level of costs that can be recovered, they do not take into account the complexity or level of work required to run individual cases, which often bears no relation to the amount of money in dispute.
Judging the complexity of a case is also not always easy at the start of the litigation process, which means that if your case turns out to be genuinely complex but has been placed in a fixed recoverable costs band, you may face a substantial costs bill that you are unable to recover from the other side even if you win. This could therefore see your compensation award very quickly being swallowed up by costs you have to pay.
The draft rules need to be approved by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee so the new costs regime is unlikely to be introduced before autumn 2022. If you have been thinking about making a personal injury compensation claim, we strongly recommend that you start your case now before the new system is introduced to ensure that you get to keep all the compensation you deserve.
Our personal injury specialists will often be able to take your personal injury claim on a no win no fee basis, which means that if you lose your case you will pay us nothing and we will only take a small pre-agreed percentage of your compensation if you win.
Even when the new regime is introduced, no win no fee will certainly be available for some claims and there are always alternatives to explore. For example many people have legal expenses insurance as part of their house insurance policy or credit card agreement, and this may cover your insurance company picking up the bill for your legal costs and expenses.
For more information on fixed recoverable costs, or any other personal injury matter, contact Therese Classon, a Partner at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot, on 01626 202328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.