‘No win no fee’ – What you need to know?

Is extremely probable that at sometime in your life you will be involved in some form of legal transaction, whether it be in the form of a buying a house, getting divorced or a major court case.

And worrying about legal costs can be frightening – especially in a big litigation case like, for example an accident or medical negligence claim, or a business litigation case. It’s hardly surprising that many people are simply left asking themselves the question of how exactly they can go about paying for it. Thankfully amidst all the legal jargon you are likely to hear, there is one term that can help alleviate the financial pressures. ‘No win no fee’ is a term used by law firms, but what does it actually mean? This article looks at what the term ‘no win no fee’ means and the steps you can take to pursue a claim under such an agreement.

What exactly is ‘no win no fee’?

In most aspects ‘no win no fee’ is pretty self-explanatory, as it entitles a claimant to put forward a claim without needing to pay the legal costs upfront. It is a risk free approach largely because in bringing a claim,, in broad terms, you will only need to pay if you win your case.

However, no win no fee, [or a conditional fee agreement as is often known] can take on different variations – as in some instances you may only have to pay some or part of the costs, this is especially true when a judge orders the defendant in the case to pay part or all of your legal fees. If you are putting forward a medical negligence claim, then there is every chance that the insurance company covering the Doctor or hospital in question may cover your fees should you win. Pursuing a claim via a ‘no win no fee’ agreement is the perfect option for those who don’t want to or can’t afford expensive court fees and unnecessary stress.

Will my claim qualify for a ‘no win no fee’ approach?

Many types of court claims can be taken on under ‘no win no fee’, but some are more wildly considered suitable for such agreement than others. Clinical or medical negligence cases, along with accident claims what most people think about when they hear the phrase ‘no win no fee’.

However some firms, like Bonallack and Bishop, offer no win no fee agreements for a much wider range of legal action including the following;

  • professional negligence claims – against a wide range of professionals including solicitors, barristers, accountants, financial advisers and builders
  • contesting a will or inheritance claims
  • some types of business litigation
  • some types of employment claims

Your no-win no fee claim – finding the right solicitor

Finally of your case potentially qualifies for ‘no win no fee’ funding is one thing, finding the right solicitor to handle your case is another thing entirely.

To start your search for the right solicitor, probably the first place to start is to ask for recommendations from friends and family. Failing that go online and google – not only should you have a look at the website of any law firm you’re considering, but don’t forget there are increasing number of online reviews of law firms – so you can see what other people are saying about the solicitors in your area. You probably wouldn’t buy washing machine without checking out some online reviews – picking the right solicitor is no different.

Make sure that you find a firm with real expertise in your kind of case. So when it comes to picking a really good specialist solicitor for say an accident claim or medical negligence case – you should start at looking at which firms locally have members of the in relevant membership panels (such as the Law Society’s own Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Panels, and the medical negligence panel run by patient justice charity AvMA). You may be surprised to find out how few solicitors really are specialist. Example there are only three law firms in the whole of Wiltshire with members of the Law Society’s clinical negligence panel – needless to say we are one of them.

However, all this careful preparation will be for nothing if you don’t feel comfortable and at ease around your chosen solicitor. Trust is key and knowing that you can talk about your case in a judgement free environment will always be important when it comes to putting your case forward.

Want to make a No Win No Fee Claim? Contact us now

For FREE initial advice about using no win no fee to make an accident or any other type of claim in Salisbury, contact our team today;

• Call us on SALISBURY (01722) 4223000

• or fill in our online enquiry form

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Joint business breakfast networking meeting in February.

Here at Bonallack and Bishop we are happy to confirm that yet again we are holding a joint breakfast networking meeting in the New Year with Salisbury’s Ambassadors Business Breakfast Club. We have been holding these joint breakfasts twice a year for four or five years now, and the events are always really well attended – with up to 60 local business people happily networking away and making new relationships..

This joint breakfast club meeting will be held at the Grasmere House Hotel in Salisbury on Tuesday, February 10.

If you have not yet been along to one of the meetings of our Salisbury Breakfast Club, which has been running now since 2008, we love to see you there. The breakfast starts at 8 AM and run through to about 9.15am and they are open to all. There is no formality, and no requirement to get up and make a presentation – just the chance for a great British breakfast and the chance to network with dozens of local businesses.

There no need for a subscription or joining fee – just £10 for a hearty cooked breakfast. But do make sure that you pay for your breakfast in advance by 12 noon on Monday, February 9 please.

Are you interested in joining us for breakfast? Simply email marketing assistant Tina Shaw at Bonallack and Bishop on tina.shaw@bishopslaw.com or call Tina’s direct dial 01722 424483 to book your place.

Bonallack and Bishop Aim to Double Lease Extension Work

Here at Bonallack and Bishop we’ve got big plans to increase the amount of lease extension work in the next two years. We already have a dedicated legal team who work exclusively on freehold purchase, right to manage and lease extension cases, and they already handle well over 200 cases every year. We understand that there are around 1.5 million leasehold flats in England and Wales, all of which will need a leasehold extension at some stage. We think that this presents a great opportunity to increase the workload of our lease extension significantly, and expand our team too.

We’re not just hoping that increased business floods in because of the current housing boom. We are already starting a marketing campaign, based around educating leaseholders. It is staggering to see how many long residential leaseholders are unaware of their legal rights to force the freeholder into extending their leases by up to 90 years, and understand that it’s not just flat owners who may have this right. Lots of estate agents, mortgage brokers and other property professionals also have a shaky grasp on the lease extension process, and when trying to sell a flat with a short lease remaining this becomes a huge issue.

We have already noticed an increase in the amount of work we’re doing, and as well as giving our team of specialist lease extension solicitors extra administrative support, the company’s trainee solicitor is about to join the team.

Act now to start your lease extension

There’s only one very simple piece of advice when it comes to lease extension – start the process now. As time passes your lease gets shorter, which makes extending it more expensive. The situation is worse because of the current housing market and rapidly rising prices, as the cost to extend your lease is based on the value of your property. As your flat goes up in value, so does the amount you’re going to have to pay to extend your lease.

Looking for a specialist Lease Extension Solicitor in Salisbury? Contact us today

Most conveyancing solicitors only deal with lease extensions once every few years if at all – and sadly many of them don’t do it well. It’s a tricky area of law and you really need a specialists.We have the only specialist lease extension team in Wiltshire. Lease extension, along with freehold enfranchisement and right to manage company formation is all they do. So for genuine expert legal advice on extending your lease;

• Call our team on SALISBURY (01722) 4223000 or

• Fill in our online enquiry form

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Stonehenge Chamber of Trade Business 2 Business Showcase – see you there

Of the three local business Expos we have taken part in over the years, this one is probably our favourite. It’s now in its eighth year, and we are proud to have supported it since the outset in 2006.

It’s not a big fancy Showcase – it doesn’t try to be overambitious, but it really works. While, for example, the Salisbury Expo was hugely flashy, it was clear too expensive and the whole thing collapsed. In contrast, the Stonehenge Business 2 Business Showcase seems to improve year-on-year.

It’s very friendly and needless to say, we’ve already booked our stand there.

When does it take place? It’s on Thursday, 18th September 2014 and takes place at Antrobus House in Amesbury.

This year the Business to Business showcase will be opened by Councillor Jane Scott, Leader of Wiltshire Council.

There may still be a couple of very reasonably priced stands left if you hurry – but if not, it still worth coming along to meet a whole host of local Amesbury, Salisbury, and Wiltshire-based businesses – because admission to visit the event is FREE!

Not only is entry free – but refreshments are kindly provided by the Chamber of Trade’s supporters free of charge – based on previous years, there are some pretty yummy things – this year, apparently you can enjoy sweet treats thanks from Dazzle and Bake, canapés courtesy of The Antrobus Arms Hotel, and afternoon tea courtesy from the Holiday Inn.

Free food and drink – free networking and a friendly welcome – what more could you want. See you there.

Tim Bishop, Bonallack and Bishop

Government to ban incentives in the latest crackdown on insurance fraud

The government unveiled its intention to ban law firms from “encouraging” people to make claims by providing them direct incentives like iPads or cash. About time too, we say.

The 2010 report Common Sense Common Safety, by Lord Young, advised as much. Introducing incentives pollutes the claims procedures. Incentives are responsible for such terms in the dictionary of day-to-day life such as “cash for crash”, “compensation culture”, and “ambulance chaser”. The sort incentives are totally unnecessary as well – why would getting you an iPad possibly make you more likely to claim what might be significant levels of compensation fuel injuries? It’s beyond me.

This latest announcement accompanied the Ministry of Justice consultation which addressed the same ground, and also recommended raising the small claims limit for whiplash, from £1000 to £5000. The proposed reforms are part of a new tide of reforms in the personal injury sector focused on insurance fraud. The reforms will additionally expect the courts to dismiss compensation claim applications “in full” where the claimant has been “fundamentally dishonest”.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) completed its’ already flagged reforms to whiplash claims for compensation with the ban on lawyers making pre-medical deals, and the proposal of new unbiased medical panels. It appears that the MoJ believes that its’ actions to date has had a “major contribution” to the drop in motor insurance premiums over the last year. Really? At the same time, however, the Association of British Insurers have reported recent figures showing that the number of fraudulent motor claims rose to a record 59,900 in 2013, at a value of £811 million (a rise of 34%).

The Ministry of Justice has also said that the insurance industry has promised that it will transfer any savings that occur from these reforms “straight to customers”, but don’t bet your life on this. It wasn’t at all surprising to hear that many insurers still state that, before a decrease in premiums can be offered to the public, yet more additional reforms were needed. Of course they do – they’re out to make profits for their shareholders, and do so by keeping the level of premiums high while reducing the amount they pay out in insurance claims . Contrary to the claims made by the insurance industry, that doesn’t appear to be any real evidence that recent reforms to the whole compensation claims process has directly produced any real reductions in levels of insurance premiums paid by the public.

In spite of the demand from a significant number of personal injury lawyers, a ban on incentives has oddly been resisted so far by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Why? It beats me?.

Unless it would lead to considerable injustice, the proposal to dismiss compensation applications where the claimant has been essentially dishonest will apply. It will be a topic for the court to determine whether a claimant has been dishonest, the MoJ spokeswoman said, based on the individual case and other factors.

Thinking of making an accident claim? Contact us now

Our specialist local team have the necessary expertise to recover the full and fair amount of compensation and will also be able to treat your compensation claim with sensitivity.

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Clinical negligence panel AVMA grant Denise re-accreditation

Action against Victims of Medical Negligence [AvMA] is a nationwide charity who assist and advise anyone, who has been the victim of an clinical or medical negligence, regarding their rights and their family’s rights. Notable campaigns are supporting the enquiry against Staffordshire Hospital and introducing Duty of Candor (also known as Robbie’s Law). This acclaimed charity runs a highly recognised clinical negligence panel. Here at Bonallack and Bishop, we would like to congratulate Denise Broomfield, our medical negligence claims team leader, who has just attained re-accreditation to this respected panel.

The AvMA panel – real expertise

As would be expected from such a highly regarded charity, the AVMA operate a stringent and tough process when it comes to selecting solicitors within the medical negligence field. The figures don’t lie. There are more than 100,000 qualified solicitors in England and Wales. However, Denise is one of just 180 solicitors who are members of both the AVMA Specialist Solicitors Panel, as well as the Clinical Negligence Panel, managed by the governing body for solicitors in England and Wales, the Law Society. So she really is specialist in medical negligence compensation claims.

Accreditation to the highly-respected AvMA panel is only granted to solicitors who have demonstrated considerable competence in the clinical negligence field, married with the capacity for understanding the emotional needs of the individual who has been injured. They may be feeling very deceived by the medical professionals who caused their suffering. Now they are being asked to trust yet another professional.

We are massive supporters of the AVMA and everything they do. Apart from medical negligence solicitors, for many years now, they appear to be the only other organisation taking the concerns of victims of clinical negligence seriously, well before journalists realised there were stories to write on the continual scandals within the NHS. We are however lucky in Salisbury – SDH is generally a very well-run hospital with good standards and way ahead of many of the other hospitals our team regularly run claims against.

An AVMA panel member since 1996 (where for some time she was the youngest solicitor in the country), Denise can not only help you with your compensation claim, but she can represent your family at Inquests and also aid in any applications to the doctor’s disciplinary board, the General Medical Council.

Denise, congratulations!

Victim of clinical negligence in Salisbury? Call us now

Receiving negligent medical treatment can be traumatic. For support in claiming the compensation you deserve, contact our specialist local team today for FREE initial phone advice, a FREE first interview and No Win No Fee funding.

• Call our team on SALISBURY (01722) 4223000

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Ministry of Justice Calls for Greater Awareness of Family Mediation Services

The falling numbers of divorcing couples who are seeking family mediation services had led to Lord McNally calling on members of the family lawyers group Resolution to work more closely with the Ministry of Justice [ MoJ] to increase awareness of mediation through the media and other channels.

Resolution is a national organisation of family law specialists and other professionals, all of whom have committed to work to resolve family problems in a non-confrontational way. Resolution was previously known as the Solicitors Family Law Association and has 6,500 members who follow a standard code of practice. This code sets out their positive style and non-confrontational way of approaching family breakdown, helping the couple involved to consider the needs of everyone involved, especially any children.

The sad failure of family mediation to capture the imagination of couples is probably in a worse state than had been imagined by McNally. Since changes to the Legal Aid system were put in place in April 2013, the number of couples seeking to use mediation services has been in sharp decline. In the first six months since the changes were introduced the numbers were down 51%.

In terms of absolute numbers, in the six months between April and October 2013, only 20 Legal Aid claims for help with mediation services were made. Under the previous system, Legal Aid money was enough to almost cover mediation work, but now people are only entitled to a single payment of between £150 and £350. This has in turn led to a drastic reduction in the involvement of family lawyers.

Many of the referrals to the mediation services in the past have come directly from solicitors, who were the first point of contact for divorcing couples. Now that legal aid is more limited, fewer couples are seeking legal advice for their divorce, and this is in turn leading to fewer people being referred on to mediation.

Many people involved in mediation suspect that the Ministry of Justice may have a hidden agenda to stop lawyers getting involved in sorting out divorce disputes altogether, and it seems the decreasing mediation figures support this theory. The MoJ have also recently announce that they want to make family mediation compulsory for any couple seeking to divorce. Although this may sound quite radical, current guidelines state that couples should be referred to mediation and assessment hearings before beginning court proceedings, and only the person applying for the divorce can be forced to go to the hearing.

Experts working in the field believe that forcing couples to come together with a mediator before commencing court proceedings will not make much of a difference to the numbers of couples in mediation. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot force it to drink. In order for mediation to be successful, both partners have to be committed to resolving their difficulties and willing to reach an agreement, so compelling people to attend mediation often works in a negative manner. Mediation is only successful in resolving family issues in a minority of cases; out of the 75,000 mediation referrals made between 2012 and 2013, only 12% ended with a successful negotiation.

Legal Aid is also of critical important to the whole mediation process. This is evident from the same figures, as out of the 75,000 total referrals made, 62,000 came directly from family lawyers who were obliged to refer their clients on to the mediation services.

The entire system is a confused mess, which is borne out by the statement by McNally to the members of Resolution. The MoJ faces a long battle to raise public awareness of mediation services and how they can be used in divorce situation, especially as the Legal Aid cuts begin to bite. In the meantime, both lawyers and clients are left in limbo, unsure of which direction to take

Looking for a Family Mediator in Salisbury? Contact us today

We are one of only three law firms in Salisbury with a family mediation service.

• Simply phone our family mediators on SALISBURY (01722) 4223000 or

• Fill in our online enquiry form for a call back at a time to suit you

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Business partnership agreements – how they can help you

Setting up a business in partnership with another person or in a group can appear like a great idea which can also save a lot of hassle. If you were setting up a limited company for example you would need to pay fee and deal with complex administration which is not the case when setting up a business partnership. However, things are rarely so easy and whilst you may have a strong friendship or working relationship with you partner/s at when you set the business up, this could all change.

No regrets

It is crucial to protect your business interest s and you do not want to cut any corners (by not setting a business partnership agreement from the outset for example) because you may regret this later. The story often goes something like this: you started trading and everything was going well until some difficult decisions needed to be made. You and your partners had different ideas on how to go about things and the time spent debating what to do resulted in a missed opportunity. This created tension and arguments and it quickly became apparent that some people were not pulling their weight. All of sudden it appeared grossly unfair that profits were shared equally between partners.

Why a business partnership agreement is worthwhile

Quite simply, you can save yourself a lot of stress and hassle by instructing an experienced business solicitor to draft a business partnership agreement from the very start. This will not only help you at the beginning but will ensure that your interests are safeguarded for the lifetime of the partnership. With such a partnership in place everyone will understand their roles and position within the company. You will end up with an agreement perfectly suited to the needs of your business.

A good partnership agreement will cover everything listed below:

• Exactly who is involved in the partnership and what their roles, rights and responsibilities are

• What he business partnership will be named and where the premised will be

• A glossary of terms so that the agreement can be easily understood

• How the decision making procedure works

• Financial contributions: how will assets and liabilities be distributed between partners? Who will deal with the insurance, banking and accounts for example?

• What happens should someone retire, die or be forced to leave the partnership? Gan a partner or outgoing partner be bought of their share

The business partnership may well grow very quickly to start with which can lead the asset/liability state of affairs to change very unpredictably. By having a partnership agreement set up early on, you can ensure that everyone is focused on the job in hand rather than the state of the finances.

Reach specialist business solicitors in Salisbury on 01722 422300

The business law team here at Bonallack & Bishop are have local knowledge as well as vast experience of commercial law issues which will help  them to quickly get to grips with needs of your business.

  • So for expert advice on partnership agreements, call us now on Salisbury [01722] 422300, or
  • Complete the contact form below.

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Businesses set to suffer as small claims limit increases to £10,000

As a result of the Jackson Reforms to Civil Litigation which came into force at the start of April this year, the small claims limit has doubled, now standing at £10,000 for all claims excluding personal injury compensation. The upshot of these changes will no doubt be an increase in the number of cases pursued using the small claims process.

Whereas the fast and multi-tract claims procedures tend to result in the losing party paying the winners costs as well as their own, the small claims procedure tends to lead to each party paying the majority of their own legal costs. The aim of the reforms is to encourage litigants in person and businesses with financial disputes to make use of the small claims procedure and mediation.

The government has allocated more resources to the small claims track and litigants in person recently, the procedure and legal arguments used are not markedly different to those for higher value claims. However, because the losing party will not need to pay the other side’s costs, businesses could now find themselves out of pocket even if they win the case. As a result, many businesses are unlikely to make claims, meaning that they may end up being forced to waive up to £10,000.

Many are concerned that the increased limit could make the non-payment of debts under 10,000 by debtors more probable because they know that, either way, they added expense will be limited.

It is therefore crucial that creditors who are owed up to £10,000 instruct a specialist solicitor prior to court action who can help them recover debt through other avenues.

Bonallack & Bishop – here to help with your business

Our solicitor have years of experience helping businesses in financial disputes and they would be happy to help you with your business today.

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Frequently asked questions – Divorce finances

What role do the courts play in divorce finances?

The courts will only step in to make rulings over divorce finances if the parties involved apply for it to do so. Therefore, courts normally only become involved when attempts to reach a financial settlement out of court have failed.

If an agreement is made out of court, this takes immediate effect and makes court involvement unnecessary. However, if either party later believes that the agreement is ineffective, they can apply to the court for an order to alter the agreement.

My divorce – is everything split down the middle?

Assets will not necessarily be divided equally, however they are often are after lengthy marriages where both parties have made significant contributions either financially or to family life (e.g. childcare, maintaining the marital home).

Cases where both parties are agreed upon an equal split can be very straightforwardly be sorted out without court intervention, therefore saving time and legal expenses.

Where there are few assets and there are also young children an equal split is likely to be deemed inappropriate. This is because the parent looking after the children will need a greater share of finances.

What is a ‘clean break’ when divorcing?

‘Clean break’ orders can be obtained from the court which stipulate that all financial terms are agreed and no maintenance payments are needed for spousal or child support. Courts will not consider this option if there are insufficient resources for all concerned to subsist.

What does a consent order do?

Consent orders are order made by the courts which essentially make financial arrangements agreed out of court binding and irreversible. Courts require very detailed breakdowns about all assets and liabilities involved in the divorce in order to approve the order. Each party must also provide sworn statements and the court will want to check that they have each received sound legal counsel.

Which financial details need to be disclosed in divorce?

Courts need to know about all assets and liabilities meaning that full disclosure is required. The full list of what the court will expect you to disclose is contained in a sizeable document called Form E, which will be expected to complete. However below is a checklist of some of the main things you will need to to consider:

• Detail all assets held by both you and your spouse

• Work out the equity value of the marital property (its current value minus the amount left on the mortgage)

• Total the value of belongings and savings such as vehicles, deposits etc.

• Value any business you or your spouse own

• Contact insurers to find out the cash value of any endowment policies

• Total any debts held by parties

Live in Salisbury?Need advice on the financial aspects of divorce? Call us today

The financial side of divorce can be very complex which is why it’s so important to have a specialist divorce lawyer on your side. Here at Bonallack & Bishop, our four strong family team are genuine specialists – divorce and family law is all they do.

We have more specialist family law accredition than any other law firm in Salisbury – the team contains two jointly qualified family mediators/lawyers and three fully accredited collaborative lawyers and they are hugely experienced in complicated divorce finances, so, for a free initial advice over the phone and a free 30 minutes appointment on any aspect of family law:

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