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Contentious Business

Britain and Ireland have similar, but different, legal systems. In Britain it is permitted for solicitors and barristers to agree to act for no, or a reduced, fee, conditional on being entitled, on winning the case, to charge the client (and a losing opponent) an enhanced fee (one larger than the norm). This is known as “a conditional fee agreement” (CFA).

This is not possible in Ireland.

In Britain, these CFA arrangements are most common in personal injury claims. In Ireland the principal law applicable to such claims and the terms to be agreed between solicitors and clients is S.I. No. 518/2002 — The Solicitors Acts, 1954 To 2002 Solicitors (Advertising) Regulations, 2002

Under the Regulations it is illegal for a solicitor to advertise “No win, no Fee”. Solicitors are not permitted to calculate their fees by reference to a percentage of the compensation recovered for the client. (Or as the Regulations put it, “In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement”.

Furthermore, not only are solicitors subject to the foregoing restrictions but are also restricted from offering “legal services involving contentious business… at no cost or reduced cost to the client”

Indeed, it is the obligation of a solicitor to give an estimate of the costs of the legal services to the client in writing, at the commencement of the engagement.

Finally, the Regulations provide, inter alia, advertisements shall not “be published in an inappropriate location”.

(We know for sure that the back of a bus is an inappropriate location).