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How to fund a lawsuit

This is another article from Barlow Robbins who are writing legal articles for us for Women in business.  This article covers ways of financing a lawsuit if you need to take someone to court.  We hope you find it useful.  If there are any other types of articles of a legal nature that you would be interested in seeing here, please let us know.

Litigation funding

Whether you are chasing unpaid invoices on behalf of your business or trying to recover damages for injuries sustained in a road traffic accident, the cost of funding litigation is a significant worry. The good news for parties engaged in proceedings is that there is an increasing range of options available for funding litigation.

The most frequently overlooked option is legal expenses insurance provided as part of home contents or buildings insurance or a motor insurance policy. Most people forget that they carry this cover. Most insurers have a strict deadline for notifying a claim and it is important to notify insurers at the earliest possible stage of a claim. If you instruct a solicitor who takes steps to recover your debt or pursue your claim and your insurers have not agreed to the steps taken, they may decline cover. If you are in any doubt as to whether or not your insurance policy contains legal protection insurance the best course of action is to send the policies to your solicitor at the earliest stage and he or she will be able to advise you.

If you don’t carry legal expenses insurance, you can buy after the event insurance, commonly abbreviated to “ATE”. Your solicitor will submit an application form to an insurance broker or direct to an insurance provider, outlining the basis of your case and assessing your likely chances of success. The insurer will provide cover designed to protect you against the eventuality of losing your case and having to pay your opponent’s legal costs. Some policies will also provide cover for your own legal costs incurred in pursuing your claim. Be warned, however, that premiums can be high. Some insurers are prepared to allow you to pay the premium at the conclusion of your case, out of your damages, if you are successful.

If insurance funding is not appropriate for you, most solicitors will offer to run your case, if it has a good chance of success, under a conditional fee agreement, popularly known as a “no win no fee” agreement. It is unrealistic to expect your solicitor to offer you a no win no fee agreement at the outset of a complicated case and you may be required to fund the case yourself until, for example, you have obtained expert evidence or a report from a doctor regarding your claim. The use of conditional fee agreements is strictly regulated by The Law Society and your solicitor will provide you with full details before you sign up to one of these agreements.

Even if a no win no fee agreement is not appropriate for your case, it is always worth exploring with your solicitors options such as a fixed fee. This is more appropriate for transactional work such as buying a property or setting up a company, or for one-off legal services such as preparing an employment contract.

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About the Author: Catherine Fisher is a Solicitor who works in dispute resolution at Barlow Robbins LLP which was formed by the merger of the two well regarded and long established legal practices of Barlows and Robbins Olivey in 2004. It is now one of the larger law firms in the South East region with a thriving portfolio of private and commercial clients.

Barlow Robbins has offices in Guildford, Woking and Godalming and provides a full range of legal services to commercial and private clients throughout the South East, London, nationally and internationally. For more information please visit www.barlowrobbins.com

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