If you have ever been injured in a road accident matter, there is big possibility that you have been contacted by an attorney. These attorney’s or the firms, usually market their services as “non-win no-fee”. What exactly does this mean and is it a genuine offer?

What does it mean for road accident fund claims?

In fact, it means exactly what it says in some cases, but not all. There are many honest attorneys and firms that offer the terms and actually mean it. There are also many firms who state that but do otherwise. Those firms that say it at face value but act otherwise, have their other terms and conditions written in the lengthy mandate contracts for road accident fund claims.

The mandate contract for road accident fund claims, especially in road accident fund matters, is the contract in which your give permission or ‘mandate’, to act on behalf of you or your dependent. Sometimes these contracts are also called ‘power of attorney.’ Many of the contracts have simple terms, and others are not so simple.

Is it a genuine offer?

Often the offer is genuine and legal. There are firms or attorneys who have simple contract and are willing to discuss the contract with you in detail. At other times the contract has hidden terms. Some firms or attorneys include clauses in their contracts that specify that if you terminate the contract prior to the matter being finalised, you will be held liable for the legal costs or legal fees incurred up to that point. These fees sometimes are in excess of R 2-3000 per hour.

So for example if the firm or attorney has done some work on your file and you decide to terminate the agreement, it is then a not a no-win no-fee agreement. It becomes a contract matter and you could be held liable for the costs.  There of course is merit in the clauses, as some people appoint attorneys and then change their mind later for various reasons, like you discover a cousin is an attorney and want to take the work to them. Also, by the time you terminate or cancel the agreement, the attorney may already have incurred costs like expert costs and other time investment into the matter.

Therefore there are genuine contracts, but you need to ask the attorney to discuss it in detail with you and ensure that you fully understand the implications of the contract for the road accident fund claims.

What are the other details that I need to know in terms of these no-win no-fee agreements for road accident fund claims?

The other vital factor that you need to consider is that the contract in this regard is regulated by law. The relevant law in this respect is known as the Contingency Fees’ Act.

This act specifies that the maximum amount that a firm or attorney may deduct from your settlement is 25% (twenty five percent).

More information on the Contingency fees can be found here in a dedicated article on this matter.