11.10.06

Day 7 (week2): No-win no-fee

Just got back from my first busy day today. The Boss was actually stressed for once and it was all over a no-win no-fee agreement. It was a piece of work which the Boss had signed up to on such an agreement way back when and thought nothing more of it. A stress at work case which he assumed would settle as most of that type of work does. Well, this one didn’t and was promising to end up in a five day bun fight at Central London County Court starting tomorrow. The first big problem was that until last night, truth be told, the Boss really hadn’t ever read the papers particularly carefully. It just seemed the sort of case which was going to settle. Had all the signs. Starter offers from the other side. Time off work for stress in the past for the client which should have put his employers on notice that he was vulnerable. At first blush it all seemed dandy. No such luck. Late last night, the Boss started ploughing through the documents the other side had handed over months ago. Needless to say, I received a late night and rather abrupt phone call asking (ie instructing) me to get in early the next morning.

6am this morning, bleary eyed, I crawled into Chambers and started delving deeper into the disclosure. By the time the Boss arrived at half past eight I’d made a pretty good start and had managed to highlight a couple of good reasons why the other side might not be making the offers which the Boss had anticipated. A few extra-curricular problems from the client which the Boss hadn’t previously picked up on which might scupper our case ob causation. Well, rather than getting any credit for spotting these points, it seems that all day I’ve been seen as the reason why the Boss might be about to lose “forty grand’s worth of fees” as he kept muttering under his breath. As if somehow, it would have been better to have discovered it in the middle of the trial.

With this much money at stake for the Boss, one thing was clear. Settlement was a priority and the quicker the better. Given that his solicitor had twice as much again riding on the case there wasn’t much resistance there. As for the client, the solicitor apparently gave him a call mentioning the difficulties that his other evidence might cause and …well, you do understand. Yes, the client understood. What was he going to do some eighteen hours before his big day in court?

Anyway, all’s well that ends well as far as the Boss was concerned as he’s now a big fat brief fee up. “Fifteen grand on the brief and five for the previous work”. Of, and that’s before the 100% uplift, taking him up to his beloved “forty grand” which is still resonating around my head.

Never take on a lawyer on a no-win no-fee is what I say. Invest now in legal expenses insurance. Pay up front. But whatever you do, don’t let the lawyers start worrying about getting paid. However much they protest otherwise, it’s there in their mind. Not even at the back of their mind. It’s a big fat ugly screaming beast jumping up and down on their head telling them to settle.

Just don't ok. Don't.

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