Can you claim ‘no win, no fee’ legal costs in Inheritance Act disputes?

An adult child with complex mental health issues, who was estranged from her parents, has succeeded in a claim against her late Father’s estate for reasonable financial provision. The judge acknowledged that may in part be due to her mental health issues.

The estate was valued at £554,000, of which the daughter was awarded £138,000 (approximately 25% of the estate). The award was made for on-going care and to cover shortfall in income against outgoings, rental deposit, new white goods, and replacement of a dilapidated car.

The Judge declined to make an award to buy a new house for the daughter because of the mother’s on-going care needs, and the fact that the daughter was estranged from her parents. The parents had only partially contributed to her living costs for four years.

It is important to account for fact that the mother was disbarred from the proceedings due to failure to comply with previous court orders. She was in a care home, but had some substantial assets to meet future care needs, (over £400,000). Whilst the Judge was careful to protect her position, it’s important to remember that this judgement was made with no argument in favour of the mother.

Interestingly, part of the daughter’s award was to cover of the uplift of the Conditional Fee Agreement (sometimes called no win, no fee) that the daughter was liable to pay her Solicitors for succeeding in the case. This is the third case where this issue has been considered recently.

Conditional fee agreement

A Conditional Fee Agreement (“CFA”) is an arrangement between you and your solicitor, agreeing to share the risk of litigation by offsetting the initial legal costs. Part, or sometimes all of the solicitor’s fees will only be payable by you in the event of success and can be recovered from the other side. However, even upon success, the ability to recover costs from the other side can sometimes be difficult, and is something that anyone who agrees to a CFA, should be aware of.

Inheritance act claims are unfortunately becoming more commonplace. If you feel that you are entitled to a sum from an estate, or would like to discuss your options when pursuing a claim, contact Donnelly & Elliott on 02392 50 55 00 or email enqs@donnelly-elliott.co.uk