The Differences Between Before and After the Event Insurance

Before the Event Insurance (BTE)

This type of insurance is taken out by people who want to protect themselves against any future legal costs which could be incurred after an event which may happen at some point in the future. These costs could include solicitor or barrister fees, costs incurred by expert witnesses, fines and fees from the court or any legal costs awarded to the winning side. The premium for a BTE insurance policy is paid annually to the company which provides the policy. Often, before the event insurance is sold as part of a home or motor insurance policy, and other people have it as part of the benefits package when joining a trade union or similar organisation.

After the Event Insurance (ATE)

In contrast, this insurance policy is taken out after an event such as an accident or negligent act has already happened. It insures the person holding the policy against any costs they might incur, as well as any costs they might have to pay if they then lose their case. After-the-event insurance is usually taken out by people who are not covered by a before-the-event insurance policy.

If someone who has an ATE insurance policy loses their case, the insurance company will then pay the legal costs and expenses incurred by the opponent, as well as the policy holder’s own costs. Most solicitors who take cases on a “no win, no fee” basis ask that their clients, whether they are the plaintiffs or the defendants, to take out ATE insurance so that the costs will be taken care of if the case is lost.

The cost of the ATE insurance premium may also be deferred until the case is settled, especially in a “no win, no fee” arrangement, so in effect the premium itself is insured. ATE insurance is commonly offered by both legal firms and claims management companies.

If an ATE policy was taken out before 1st April 2013, the cost of the policy can often be claimed from the losing side in any case as part of the costs awarded. If the ATE policy started after this date, the cost of it cannot be claimed back from the opposing side. The cost of a BTE insurance premium can never be recovered from the other side as part of the costs.

Victim of Professional Negligence? Thinking of claiming compensation? Call us today

Our expert Professional Negligence team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for injury claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

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No Win No Fee Solicitors – The Pros and Cons

However careful you are, accidents happen. It’s surprising to learn that every year in the UK over three million of us are injured in accidents and often through no fault of our own. If someone has suffered a financial loss, or a physical or psychological injury because of the actions or conduct of someone else, there may well be grounds to make a claim against them for compensation. We’ve all seen the legal firms advertising on TV, telling us that if we’ve been involved in an accident which wasn’t our fault we can use the no win no fee system to get the compensation which we’re entitled to. But how exactly does no win no fee actually work in practice and how will it apply to your compensation claim.

All about no win no fee arrangements

The basic idea behind no win no fee agreements is that if your solicitor fails to win your claim for compensation, you will not have to pay any solicitors fees. The implications of this from the solicitor’s point of view is that they do not get paid for a case which they lose.

The origins of no win no fee

No win no fee, also known as conditional fee arrangements, were introduced in 1995 to help people make claims for compensation without having the worry about affording the potentially high legal fees associated with taking action, following the removal of legal aid from personal injury claims.

In the last two decades no win no fee has become part of our everyday vocabulary, and it’s hard to remember a time before 1995 where it was actually illegal for a solicitor to offer to represent a client on that basis.

Success fees

If you win your case and your solicitor is successful, you will get your compensation, but you will also have to pay a success fee to your solicitor in return for them taking the risk of presenting the case in the first place. Some changes were made to the legislation recently and this means that the fee is not taken from the compensation which is awarded to the client, and can be any amount up to 25% of the total.

What kind of claim can I make using no-win no fee

There are many different sorts of claim cases which can be brought on a no win no fee basis, as long as the client has suffered some sort of injury or loss because of the actions of others. The most common types of cases brought using no-win no fee are injury cases including include road or workplace accidents, industrial diseases and professional and medical negligence cases. However, they do also potentially apply to other sorts of litigation. Example here at Bonallack and Bishop, we also offer no win no fee for inheritance claims and business litigation.

What is after-the-event insurance?

An important part of the no win no fee agreement is a special insurance called after-the-event insurance (ATE), which protects clients against losing their cases and ensures that all the solicitor expenses are covered without the client being out of pocket

No Win No Fee – Pros

The major advantage of no win no fee is that it opens up access to justice to everyone, irrespective of their personal financial situation. These agreements are also a good way of reducing risk when making your compensation claim. It is generally felt that no win no fee has gone a long way to make legal services feel more accessible to the public and the agreements are often viewed as down to earth and informal. People feel much more comfortable making a claim for compensation when the worry about paying huge legal fees is put to one side. Entering into a no win no fee agreement takes the worry about paying legal fees out of the equation completely, whether you win or lose your case. If a case is lost, there are no fees payable to the solicitor at all. If your solicitor wins your case, you will be asked to pay a success fee rather than the charges being calculated as an hourly rate or a fixed fee. This means that claims move more quickly and run into fewer delays when clients do not have to spend time getting the money together before they can start the claims process.

No win no fee – Cons

Although there are clear benefits in a no win no fee arrangement, it’s important to look at the other side of the story too. The risk and cost of making a compensation claim is greatly reduced when using this sort of contract, but one of the main criticisms is that winning a case and paying a success fee results in a large proportion of the compensation money going to the solicitor instead of to the client. If they charge a success fee, and the vast majority of solicitors now do, changes introduced in 2013 mean that solicitors are not allowed to advertise that clients will get 100% of the compensation which they are awarded, and that all fees and costs will be paid by the other side. Also, if a claim is successful, there are some instances where a client may still have to pay back the solicitor for any costs they incurred during the case. These instances are, however, most likely to be covered by the after the event insurance.

On balance?

Taking the picture as a whole, there are obvious advantages to using no win no fee as a way of financing a claim for compensation. It is true that successful cases will mean the claimant has to pay as much as 25% of their money awarded to their solicitor, but not every solicitor claims a fee up to the maximum limit. Just because they are entitled to ask for 25% doesn’t mean they will. 25% might seem like a lot, but you have to consider it alongside the advantages of getting 75% of the compensation which is money you would not have had if you had not taken the case forward in the first place, with the help of your solicitor.

Given the huge reduction in financial risk and the lower costs involved, we strongly believe that no win no fee is a very efficient way to make a claim for compensation for the vast majority of people, many of whom would not have been able to put forward their claim without a no win no fee arrangement.

Victim of Professional Negligence? Thinking of claiming compensation? Call us today

Our expert Professional Negligence team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for injury claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

• Call 01722 422300 today for a FREE initial phone consultation OR

• Fill out the enquiry form below

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Wills, Solicitors and Professional Negligence

The aftermath of a loved one’s death is always a painful and difficult time, but when there is the added complication of disagreements over the will, this makes the distress a lot worse.

Many people think that wills can simply be contested, and although this is sometimes true. However if the problem involves a mistake made by the solicitor when drawing the will in the first place, then the best approach is often not to go to court to challenge the will, but to think about starting a claim for professional negligence against the law firm or solicitor who drew up the will in the first place.

Drafting a will – the mistakes solicitors can make

Unfortunately there is a lot scope for solicitors to make errors when it comes to drafting a will. One of the most common errors is for a solicitor to neglect to consider ways of reducing inheritance tax liability when drafting the will. Sometimes, the solicitor doesn’t consider inheritance tax at all, and in these cases if there is a direct financial loss as a result [e.g. the need to unnecessarily pay more tax] there could be grounds for a successful professional negligence claim.

It is also not unheard of for a solicitor to give poor advice, or to fail to get the will witnessed properly. Not having a will witnessed by an independent third party can invalidate it completely.

Sometimes wills are just poorly written, which makes the wishes of the deceased unclear or difficult to carry out. Mistakes in situations such as this could leave the will’s beneficiaries in financial hardship which would not have occurred if the solicitor had taken more care when drafting the will.

There are many other reasons why people bring professional negligence claims against wills solicitors. These include:

•    Agreeing to draft a will when the testator did not have the required mental capacity

•    Using language when drafting the will which is unclear or can be interpreted in a number of different ways

•    Delaying in drafting the will and having it executed before the death of the testator. In this kind of case, delay can lead to the testator dying without a proper will in place, known as intestacy.

Property as well as personal possessions are often involved when dealing with wills and probate, and it is therefore vital to make sure that any disputes are sorted out in a way which satisfies all interested parties. A will is one of the most important pieces of paper any of us will ever sign, and if our solicitor gets it wrong, the financial consequences can be severe.

Most cases of negligence can be avoided if the solicitor is careful, considers their actions and follows current best practice. If they ensure that the will is worded properly, that the intentions and wishes of the testator are clearly state and that all liabilities in terms of tax are explained in full, they can help insure themselves against any action in the future. Despite this, errors can sometimes still occur.

The need for specialist professional negligence solicitor

Every will and set of circumstances is different. If you are thinking about making a claim against a solicitor for professional negligence because of a mistake they made while drawing up a will, you need to get legal advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in professional negligence claims. This is a complex and tricky area of the law and there are not many solicitors who deal with this sort of work on a daily basis.

Fortunately, the professional negligence team here at Bonallack and Bishop specialise in these kind of claims against negligent solicitors.

They will then give you advice on how best to proceed, and will help you come to a decision about whether a claim for professional negligence is appropriate and what chances any claim for compensation has of succeeding.

Victim of Professional Negligence? Thinking of claiming compensation? Call us today

Our expert Professional Negligence team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for injury claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

• Call 01722 422300 today for a FREE initial phone consultation OR

• Fill out the enquiry form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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My Professional Negligence Claim – Can I Use My Own Solicitor under My Legal Expense Insurance?

It often comes as a surprise to hear that your insurance company cannot make you use a solicitor of their choosing when you are using legal expenses insurance to fund a legal case.

Each insurance company has their own panel of preferred solicitors who offer a range of services to the insurance company’s policyholders. Their services may well be just what you need, but there are often situations where a case needs specialist knowledge or expertise which none of the solicitors on the panel possess. Furthermore, some clients just prefer to work with a local solicitor. In these instances, we can help policyholders to use their rights to choose their own solicitor.

Here at Bonallack and Bishop, our disputes resolution department has experience and expertise in many different types of claim including personal injury, medical negligence, partnership or business disputes, employment law or disputes over wills.

But we also have a specialist professional negligence team. So, for example, if you are covered for legal costs under your insurance policy for a professional negligence dispute, while the panel solicitor might be perfectly adequate for a simple trip and slip personal injury claim, we might be better placed to give you expert help on suing a solicitor or other negligent professional than a panel solicitor recommended by your insurer.

Using a Non-Panel Solicitor for Your Professional Negligence Claim

When you first consider using the legal expenses cover which you have, we can take a look through your policy to check that firstly you have legal expenses cover, and secondly, that it will cover the type of case which you are considering.

Which of my insurance policies might cover legal expenses?

Normally legal expenses cover is added to a home insurance policy, but it may also be added to insurance on your credit card. This type of legal expenses cover is called BTE insurance, standing for “before the event”.

Once we’ve checked that your policy does give you cover for legal expenses and that your case is likely to be included in the cover, then you have to tell your insurer that you want to make a claim. It is important that you do this as quickly as possible. Remember too that there will be terms and limits placed on your claim, so we will go through all of this with you and make sure that you know what you are covered for.

We will then set the process in motion with your insurance company, and tell them why your choice to work with us is a reasonable decision. The insurance company may tell you that you have to go with their choice of solicitor but this is simply not true; you can make the decision about which solicitor represents you.

Although you have the right to choose who represents you, insurers often set caps in hourly rates or solicitor fees in their policy terms and conditions. They can only do this if the terms and conditions still give you freedom of choice over your solicitor. In other words, they can’t impose such heavy restrictions so you cannot choose your own solicitor.

We can usually work with the insurance company on any of these issues. We will also liaise with your insurance company about our fees, give them a budget for overall costs and provide a report on the case given the evidence we have.

Your professional negligence claim – your solicitor – your choice

So in cases where an insurance company offers general insurance and legal expenses insurance, they are obliged to allow you the freedom to choose your own lawyer. If you are content with the choice of solicitor offered by your insurer then that is not a problem. You have to be confident though that any company which you choose to act on your behalf is going to look out for your best interests. If you choose to look for your own solicitor, whatever your reasons, then your insurance company is not allowed to tell you that you have to use someone from their panel.

Victim of Professional Negligence? Thinking of claiming compensation? Call us today

Our expert Professional Negligence team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for injury claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

• Call 01722 422300 today for a FREE initial phone consultation OR

• Fill out the enquiry form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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6 Legal Mistakes Which Might Lead To a Professional Negligence Claim

It’s always disappointing when a professional lets you down, and even more so when your solicitor is not up to scratch. We put our trust in them, and considering the sort of cases where we need legal help, you could be substantially out of pocket too.

In order to sue your solicitor for negligence means that you have to have suffered some sort of financial loss. Bad service may lead to you complaining about them, but is in itself not enough grounds for a professional negligence claim.

You also have to provide evidence to back up your claim which proves that your solicitor has given you advice which you wouldn’t expect from a competent solicitor and that your financial loss was as a consequence of that advice.

All sorts of legal mistakes can potentially lead to professional negligence, but the six most common mistakes are:

1. Suing the wrong people – Odd as it might sound, it can and does happen. This can happen when the action involves a company as it’s the solicitor’s job to make sure they issue proceedings against the correct company or person.

2. Under-settling a claim for compensation – this sort of mistake is becoming more common. Large “claims factories” employ inexperienced staff with scant supervision from knowledgeable solicitors. This can mean a client ends up accepting a compensation offer which is way below the sum which should have been offered.

3. Getting a will wrong – solicitors can get the wording of a will wrong, or follow to word it according to what the testator wanted. Solicitors sometimes also make mistakes when executing the will or having the signatures witnessed.

4. Missing deadlines – this is one of the most basic mistakes but one which keeps on happening. Depending on the type of case there are often strict deadlines which have to be met. For example, in most cases you have three years from the date of an accident to start a claim for personal accident compensation. If your solicitor doesn’t submit your claim within that three year period, it could mean that you miss out on compensation completely.

5. Conveyancing mistakes – mistakes made while managing the buying and selling of property are one of the most common reasons why a client claims for professional negligence. There are a lot of very routine mistakes which are made such as not telling clients about restrictions on planning, not spotting rights-of-way crossing the property or failing to pick up on a mistake in the property’s title.

6. Drafting errors – there are many different situations where solicitors are asked to draw up documents for you, anything from business law documents like a partnership agreement or shareholder agreement to personal documents such as a divorce agreement or compensation claim. Sometimes a drafting error doesn’t mean the client loses out financially and is easily corrected, but other mistakes can be extremely costly.

If you think you may have grounds for a professional negligence claim against your solicitor, you need to consider that this is a complicated legal area and there are not many solicitors who make it their speciality. Make sure that when you are engaging a solicitor for a professional negligence case that you get one who really knows what they are doing, and look for a specialist in professional negligence.

Victim of Professional Negligence? Thinking of claiming compensation? Call us today

Our expert Professional Negligence team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for injury claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

• Call 01722 422300 today for a FREE initial phone consultation OR

• Fill out the enquiry form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Suing my own personal injury solicitor

You can sue your accident claim solicitor if he/she has:

1.   Breached their duty of care towards you. All solicitors have a legal commitment to only take up personal injury claims [or indeed any cases] where they have suitable expertise, as well as taking care when working for clients. If this commitment is not met, a solicitor will have breached their duty of care.

2.   The breach of duty has resulted in you sustaining a loss. If a solicitor breaches their duty of care towards you and this leads to you experiencing a loss (typically on a financial basis), you will have the grounds for a professional negligence claim against your solicitor.

When can I sue my personal injury solicitor?

There are various ways in which a claim against a personal injury solicitor can develop. The most prevalent claims at present are due to:-

•   A failure to serve within four months
•   A failure to issue proceedings within the limitation period
•   A failure to insure the claim with ATE insurers
•   The under settlement of a claim
•   The case was struck out
•   A failure to instruct appropriate medical experts/investigate issues

This list is not exhaustive. There are plenty of other factors that can be taken into consideration where a personal injury lawyer could be found negligent.

Can I sue my solicitor?

To find out if you are able to sue your personal injury solicitor, you should consult with a law firm which has expertise in professional negligence claims. A lawyer will pay attention to the particulars of your experience with your previous solicitor before advising whether or not you have been the victim of professional negligence. If there is a case to be answered, your lawyer can make a claim on your behalf, recouping the financial damages you have wrongfully suffered.

Personal Injury Undersettlement are on the Increase

According to some professional negligence lawyers, cannibalism is becoming increasingly more common in the accident claims arena  – “cannibalism has been to describe the practice of one claimant lawyer suing another claimant lawyer.

The problem has arisen due to the very low levels of fixed legal fees for some accident claims, which leave extremely slim profit margins for claims lawyers. As a consequence, the temptation is there for unscrupulous lawyers to undersettle their client’s claim to get the case over and done with quickly. Reports from the industry indicate that this is already happening.

Barristers Chambers, One Chancery Lane, submitted a written response to the Civil Justice Council’s request for feedback from the legal industry on the impact of the Jackson reforms. One Chancery Lane said that they were seeing an upsurge in the number of people coming to them regarding claims for professional negligence against personal injury lawyers because of undersettlement.

There are also indications that some Personal Injury firms are putting a limit on the number of times a lawyer can deal with a case before it has to be settled. It’s therefore unsurprising that some claims lawyers are seeing making claims against other claims lawyers as a potentially lucrative money making opportunity.

If there is still any doubt that undersettlement of personal injury claims is really a problem, just take a look at the website which Liverpool based law firm Irvings has put online. The website states that in many cases, accident claims are settled “too quickly, without getting the most for people like you”.

Irvings’ website promises to go through any claim which may have been potentially undersettled in detail, and if they suspect that the previous legal team was not thorough, or the claim was mishandled in some way, they “won’t rest until we get you every last penny”. Any claims made using this process are handled on a no win, no fee basis.

Victim of Professional Negligence? Thinking of claiming compensation? Call us today

Our expert Professional Negligence team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for injury claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

• Call 01722 422300 today for a FREE initial phone consultation OR

• Fill out the enquiry form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Professional Negligence By Business Advisers and Lawyers

If you use a lawyer or solicitor to represent you through a business dispute, or to give advice on some aspect of commercial law, you are entitled to expect that they will be trustworthy and that you can rely on them for help and expert legal opinion. The expectation of a trusted relationship applies in many other business professions such as accountants, commercial property advisers and financial advisers. We depend on these people and rely on their legal expertise, and if they are negligent and let us down, the consequences can be severe.

The effects of financial losses caused by the negligence of a professional adviser can be devastating on a business. Many companies suffer huge financial difficulties as a consequence of poor financial advice and the impact on a business owner’s personal and family advice can be equally severe. If poor professional conduct or advice has resulted in loss, then you might have grounds for bringing a case for professional negligence.

Professional negligence is not always something you notice straight away. It can sometimes be years later before the consequences of the negligence become apparent. Claims for compensation for professional negligence generally have to be started within six years of the loss or the advice being given, so even if the negligence happened a while ago, you may still have grounds to claim. There are exceptions to the six year rule, and in some circumstances you can still take some action on older cases.

Examples of negligent advice

Accountants are a good example of this in that we depend on them to provide accurate advice to make sure we are paying the right tax, and to make sure the business runs both smoothly and profitable. If an accountant is negligent and gives bad advice which means your business loses out financially, you may have a solid case for professional negligence. Similarly, if a property lawyer does not give proper advice when you are considering leasing a commercial property, you could claim compensation for any additional costs you face. This could cover things such as the lawyer not telling you the property was not suitable for your business.

Claims can be made for professional negligence against financial advisers whose poor advice leads to financial loss when you are investing money, planning for tax or setting up trust funds.

There are many different forms of professional negligence and the first step should always be speaking to a specialist solicitor to discuss what has happened and see whether you have a case. Some business owners just accept bad advice as part and parcel of business risk, but this does not always have to be the case. If your business has been a victim of poor advice and has suffered a financial loss, it’s worth putting some thought into the possibility of a professional negligence claim.

Victim of Professional Negligence? Thinking of claiming compensation? Call us today

Our expert Professional Negligence team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for injury claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

• Call 01722 422300 today for a FREE initial phone consultation OR

• Fill out the enquiry form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Huge Rise in Law Firm Professional Negligence Claims

According to data collected by London law firm RPC, the number of claims for professional negligence against UK legal firms heard in the High Court has risen 300% in just one year. In 2013/14 there were 418 cases for professional negligence against law firms, up from 143 in the previous twelve months.

Problems with property law claims

Many of these negligence cases concern disputes over property or conveyancing law and include claims related to sub-prime mortgage lending.

Financial institutions are at the head of the queue to get compensation for property losses suffered in the credit crunch, and claimants are also turning their attention to lawyers rather than surveyors.

RPC states that part of the reason for the rise in claims is the rapidly approaching six year deadline for putting in claims related to the credit crunch, which was started by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.

This rapidly rising claims rate seems at first glance truly shocking.

Negligence claims – Is there really a problem?

According to RPC however, what is actually happening is a delayed reaction.

Many of those who watched their assets such as property tumble in value because of the credit crunch are now making a last-minute attempt to claw back some of their losses. Many of the claimants – including lenders – are quickly submitting claims for professional negligence against their legal representatives before the deadline for claims expires.

Common types of professional negligence claims against lawyers

Some of the circumstances which RPC says has led to professional negligence claims are:

•    Lawyers not carrying out the appropriate anti-money laundering checks when dealing with property sales or purchases
•    Lack of proper checking of identity to combat mortgage fraud, especially in the self-certification mortgage market
•    Not identifying situations where inappropriate mortgages were mis-sold, or not recommending to buyers that they get unbiased financial advice.

Over recent years, valuers have most often found themselves charged with professional negligence, and this has been mainly due to disputes over overvaluing an individual property or larger development. This type of claim is relatively easy to prove.
Currently, financial institutions, property developers and individual claimants are starting to make claims against law firms and the role which lawyers played in the whole fiasco. Whether the claim is for poor conveyancing practice, mis-selling of loans or failing to spot fraudulent applications, these sorts of cases are far less straightforward to prove one way or the other.

Thinking of making a claim? Don’t delay

The six year deadline is now fast approaching for many. For others this time limitation period have really been missed. Missing that deadline probably means missing out on the right compensation entirely. Some claimants are now going straight to court action rather than trying to resolve issues amicably first, according to RPC.

Victim of Professional Negligence? Thinking of claiming compensation? Call us today

Our expert Professional Negligence team can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first appointment and no win no fee arrangements for injury claims – so you don’t have to worry about paying legal bills

• Call 01722 422300 today for a FREE initial phone consultation OR

• Fill out the enquiry form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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