Queensland Country Life

What does no win no fee mean?

There are benefits of a no win no fee lawyer, but also some things you need to know. Picture Shutterstock
There are benefits of a no win no fee lawyer, but also some things you need to know. Picture Shutterstock

Some lawyers offer no win, no fee agreements for certain clients, and these are generally offered to people who have limited finances so they can still access legal services without the worry of losing money without winning their case.

There are many benefits to working with a no win no fee lawyer, but there are also some things you need to be aware of before signing the contract, too. Keep reading to find out more.

Does no fee really mean no fee?

Under a no win, no fee contract, you might not need to pay any legal fees if your claim is unsuccessful. However, if your claim is successful you'll often need to pay a 'success fee', which will include the legal fees from your lawyer.

A success fee is often a percentage added to your final costs, and this will depend on your territory. For example, South Australian Law dictates that, if your claim is successful, the legal fees can be increased by up to 25 per cent. This uplift is considered the success fee and isn't calculated as a percentage of your settlement money.

Do all lawyers offer no win no fee contracts?

A no win, no fee contract can take some of the pressure off you when seeking legal advice because you don't necessarily have to worry about paying large legal fees when you don't win your case. However, not all lawyers offer these contracts, and some might have specific terms in place when it comes to these contracts to protect themselves.

Lawyers will often only offer no win, no fee agreements when they think there is a realistic chance of winning the case. You might also see them offered under the term 'conditional cost agreements'. These are legally binding contracts, so make sure you read and understand the terms before signing your no win, no fee agreement.

Who can ask for a no win no fee agreement?

Anyone can ask for a no win, no fee agreement from a lawyer who offers this service, but you might be more likely to be granted it if your lawyer thinks the following:

  • Your claim has legal merit and a high likelihood of success
  • You couldn't access legal advice without the no win, no fee agreement
  • You are fully aware and willing to pay the costs to prepare and run the case
  • You are aware that you may need to pay the other party's costs if your claim is unsuccessful, and that you can do this

How are fees calculated under a no win no fee agreement?

Many lawyers will calculate their fees based on professional services and other costs before the settlement, which include the time required to prepare for the case and for the legal team working on the claim. Other common charges include phone calls, photocopying, faxes, emails, postage, and more.

You will get an itemised list of these payments, or your lawyer will explain the costs associated with your service to make sure you know what you're spending. This will all be done before you sign onto the no win no fee agreement so you're not blindsighted by charges.

What expenses might you need to pay for?

There are some common expenses that come with no win no fee contracts that you need to consider before entering this agreement.


Your lawyer might recover disbursements, including court filing fees, expert reports, and barrister's fees, related to your case. These will have been estimated in the costs of your agreement before you signed it if you're expected to pay them, so these costs won't be handed to you without proper notice.

Uplift fees

No win no fee lawyers might charge higher fees for this service than if you were to go with another lawyer not offering the no win no fee contract. This is because the lawyer is taking a risk with your case, so if you win, you'll need to pay an uplifted fee. Again, this should be detailed in your contract before you sign it. You'll only need to pay this if your lawyer wins the case for you.

Other party's costs

Even if you don't win the claim, you might still have to pay for the other party's legal costs. The amount will differ from case to case, so it's wise to ask your lawyer how much you might have to pay if your case goes to court and you don't win.

Final thoughts

A no win, no fee agreement is where a lawyer offers legal aid with the idea that you won't have to pay anything unless you win your claim. They can help more people access legal advice who might've otherwise not bothered due to the costs.

If you win your claim, you'll likely need to pay a success fee as well as the legal fees, and any disbursements your lawyer detailed before the agreement was signed. If you don't win your claim, you might still need to pay the other party's legal costs.