No Win-No Fee. Easy Access to Justice, but What About the Uplift Fee?

Apr 14, 2020 | Compensation Law

Every law firm charges differently for their services and injured clients have a right to negotiate the payment terms of costs agreements offered for legal advice and representation.1 Trilby Misso Lawyers set themselves apart from the rest by providing professional legal services with fair and affordable fees. Legal costs can be expensive and many injured people fail to follow through with legal action due to the significant financial burden associated with such matters. Trilby Misso Lawyers has made it easy to secure legal representation by excluding the ‘uplift fee’ from all conditional costs agreements. Injured clients are now able to seek compensation and justice despite their financial circumstances.

What is a Costs Agreement?

A costs agreement, with the exception of a ‘conditional’ costs agreement, is a written offer provided by a law firm that can be accepted in writing or by other means as stated in the offer. The costs agreement made between a client and a law firm is a legal document and is enforceable in much the same manner as a contract.2 Costs agreements may also be conditional, whereby some, or all legal costs are payable upon the successful outcome of proceedings.

Types of agreements:

  • Costs agreement- Payment for fees and expenses are outlined and payable regardless of the final outcome of the matter.
  • Conditional costs agreement- These agreements outline all fees and expenses that are contingent on a successful outcome.

Law practices offer these types of agreements to accommodate the varying financial circumstances of their clients and the varied legal matters.

Uplift Fees- What You Need to Know.

Queensland first allowed legal practices to charge an uplift fee of an additional 50% on top of their legal fees in 2004.3  Today, the uplift fee is capped at 25% and compensates a law firm for the ‘risk’ associated with conditional agreements and is payable once the matter is successful. The ‘uplift fee’ is commonly added to conditional costs agreements and can send legal costs sky-rocketing.

 Reasons why the ‘uplift fee’ is warranted:

  • The law practice shoulders the risk of undertaking work for which there is no guarantee of payment.
  • The law practice must pay all costs incurred as the matter progresses, including wages, expenses and overheads.
  • Compensation for the delay in payment of legal costs.

The uplift fee must be clearly identified in the costs agreement, which must include a ‘fee estimate’ and a clear explanation of how the fee is calculated. In some cases, it may be difficult to provide an exact total amount as the uplift fee may be impacted by a range of factors such as:

  • Delays in obtaining instructions and vital information.
  • The complexity of the matter and changes that occur as the case progresses.
  • Whether legal experts or Barristers are engaged.
  • How long it takes to settlement.

Trilby Misso Lawyers Make Justice Affordable

The ‘uplift fee’ is well justified in terms of the risk factor associated with legal matters that have an unpredictable outcome and little to no guarantee of payment. Likewise, lawyers are equally justified to request payment for professional services rendered. However, poor access to justice is a well-publicised problem in Australia, and despite reforms, many people still cannot afford to pay legal costs. With many Australians reportedly experiencing ongoing financial stress, the current economic climate calls for a change in approach to legal, financial agreements.

Trilby Misso Lawyers, Queensland, is sympathetic to this situation and has removed the ‘uplift fee’ from their conditional cost agreements. This move aims to ease the current financial burden that many injured Australians face. By excluding the uplift fee, Trilby Misso Lawyers has drastically reduced legal costs for its clients, making justice affordable and obtainable.

References

  1. Information Sheet for Legal Practitioners. 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2019, from http://www.legalservicescouncil.org.au/Documents/information-res/Costs_Agreements.pdf.
  2. Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) s.5.326. (Austrl.).

Legal Profession (Barristers) Rules 2004. (QLD)