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The cost of taking legal action

Taking legal action can be expensive as well as stressful. If you have a problem or dispute with someone, you should first talk to your solicitor or adviser to consider the various ways of dealing with the problem. For example, there are conciliation and mediation services, which can be simpler than using the courts for sorting out disputes. See the Community Legal Advice leaflet ´Alternatives to Court´ for more information.

If you do find that you need to use a solicitor, you should think about how you will pay for your case.

You may be able to get public funding through the Community Legal Service Fund (formerly called legal aid) to help pay for some cases. You can get this help only if you genuinely cannot afford to pay by yourself and only for certain types of case. The main type of case for which you cannot get public funding is a claim for a personal injury. For more information, contact the Community Legal Service (see 'The Community Legal Service').

If you do not qualify for money from the Community Legal Service Fund, there are other options to help you pay:

  • You might already have legal expenses insurance (see 'Before-the-event insurance')
  • If you belong to a trade union, you may be able to get help from them (see 'What if I belong to a trade union?')
  • You could use a 'conditional-fee agreement', also called a 'no-win, no-fee' agreement.

A no-win, no-fee agreement can help you pay your solicitor's costs, unless your case relates to a family dispute or it is a criminal matter. For information on dealing with the breakdown of a relationship, see the Community Legal Advice leaflets, ´Divorce and Separation' and ´Living Together and Your Rights if You Separate'.

No-win, no-fee agreements are mostly used to pay for personal injury cases. See the Community Legal Advice leaflet 'Personal Injury' for more information.

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