Can I Bring a Sexual Abuse No Win No Fee Compensation Claim?

Sexual abuse and physical assault litigation can be funded in different ways.

Most of our clients choose to bring sexual abuse compensation claims using “no win no fee” agreements. But, for completeness, we suggest you look at all alternatives so you can choose the right method for you. Here we explain the following ways of funding your compensation claim:

  1. legal aid
  2. conditional fee (no win no fee) agreements
  3. before the event insurance
  4. private client funding.
Photo of Kevin Donoghue, a solicitor who can help you bring a sexual abuse no win no fee claim.

Contact Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, to discuss your sexual abuse claim funding options, including “no win no fee” agreements.

1. Legal Aid

Donoghue Solicitors does not represent people on a legal aid basis. (Our Law Society listing wrongly says we offer legal aid in actions against the police cases, which can overlap with sexual abuse matters. We have notified them of the error.)

Legal aid might be an appropriate way to fund your sexual abuse claim. This is because it can help pay for legal fees and disbursements (such as medical reports and court fees). It can also provide valuable protection for your opponent’s costs in the event you are not successful in your claim.

But, despite public perception, legal aid is not “free”. It is just one method of funding your civil compensation claim.

Some things to note about legal aid are:

  1. it is very difficult to get, and most people do not qualify. This is because strict financial and means tests are coupled with a requirement that your case has good prospects of success. Without both these things your legal aid application can be refused.
  2. You have to use a lawyer willing to work on legal aid cases, who might not be your preferred choice.
  3. Even if you find a legal aid lawyer, you might have to pay them yourself to complete your legal aid application, deal with any appeals, and keep the Legal Aid Agency informed.
  4. There can be other charges, such as a lump sum payment or monthly contributions towards your legal aid certificate. Monthly contributions are paid for the lifetime of the certificate. Sexual abuse cases can take years so these bills can be substantial.
  5. Legal aid fees and disbursements must be paid back if you win. This process, known as levying the statutory charge, applies to any money or property you win. If you do not recover enough money to cover legal costs, you might have to pay the Legal Aid Agency out of your damages. In extreme cases, this could result in you being left without compensation despite your successful action.
  6. In some situations you may have to pay back some, or all, of your legal aid costs even if you lose or discontinue your claim.
  7. Legal aid can be withdrawn if your prospects of success fall below the threshold, leaving you without funding for your case and protection for your opponent’s costs.
  8. You must keep the Legal Aid Agency informed about changes in your financial situation. If you fail to do so, the Agency can
    • withdraw your legal aid,
    • make you pay back all costs, and
    • you could be criminally prosecuted.

You can find out more about legal aid on the Government’s website.

2. Sexual Abuse No Win No Fee (Conditional Fee) Agreements

Most of our clients use conditional fee (also known as “no win no fee”) agreements for their compensation claims. This is why:

  1. Unlike legal aid, with no win no fee agreements there is no need to produce financial and asset information. You do not need to prove that you cannot afford to pay for legal help. And, except in certain circumstances, you do not need to pay fees at any time during the lifetime of your case.

You get to choose your own lawyer, and there are no:

  • lump sums or monthly contributions
  • statutory charges if you win
  • risks that legal funding will be withdrawn by a Legal Aid Agency caseworker.
  1. Conditional fee agreements are quick and easy to set up. Once investigations into funding methods are complete, we send the paperwork electronically for your digital signature. Instead of filling out a long legal aid application, you can fund your sexual abuse case with a few quick taps on your phone.
  2. The conditional fee agreement is a binding legal contract. It confirms that, provided you meet the terms we agreed, you will not have to pay our legal fees in the event your sexual abuse claim fails.

Simply put, if you don’t succeed, we don’t get paid.

(N.B. you might have to pay other fees. These could include the difference between incurred and recovered costs, your opponent’s costs and disbursements, and medical expert cancellation fees. Full details of these exceptions are detailed in the agreement.)

  1. If you win, you pay us a “success fee” of up to 25% of your damages for personal injuries and past financial losses. This means that, in return for us taking the financial risk and delaying (or losing) payment of our fees, generally you can expect to receive 75% of your total compensation for these things. (*This applies to first instance proceedings only, where most claims conclude, and there are exceptions as described in 3. above which we will explain fully when discussing your funding options with you.). You only pay the “success fee” out of damages you recover. So, unlike in some legal aid cases, you could never be out-of-pocket in respect of your own solicitor’s fees which are covered under the no win no fee agreement.

Despite all the benefits, a conditional fee agreement might not be the best funding option for your sexual abuse case. This is because the 25% success fee is deducted for your damages. This does not apply in other cases, such as legal aid, private client, and before the event funding.

And unfortunately we can’t take every case. You can read all about the criteria we use to select cases in this blog post.

3. Before the Event Insurance

Before the event insurance is insurance cover you have in place before an incident occurs for which you could claim compensation. For example, car, home, credit card, trade union, other cover.

If you can use it, before the event insurance can be a good option. This is because:

  • it provides cover up to set limits for your own legal costs and disbursements, and your opponent’s costs
  • no success fees apply.


  1. it is rare that before the event insurance applies in sexual abuse and assault cases. Even if it applies in principle, insurers often decline to cover arguing poor prospects of success.
  2. Also, insurers expect claimants to use their appointed panel solicitors. These can be unknown to you, and many miles away.
  3. Insurers can withdraw cover at any time, especially if they decide your prospects of success have fallen below their threshold. This can lead to you being without legal help and unable to find a lawyer willing to take your case.

4. Private Client Funding

If you pursue a sexual abuse case on a “private client” basis you are agreeing to pay your lawyer personally, out of your own pocket. If you decide on this method we would:

  • agree the scope of work with you,
  • take a payment on account to start work, and
  • agree ongoing payment terms (monthly, quarterly).

Private client funding can be useful because you:

  1. choose your own lawyer, instead of one being appointed for you
  2. progress your case if no one else will fund it
  3. receive all of your damages in the event you win.


  • you have to fund the case yourself. This can be expensive in sexual abuse cases, which can take years and involve multiple defendants
  • still have to pay legal costs even if you win if there is a shortfall
  • pay all your own fees, disbursements, and defendant’s costs if you lose.

Any Questions About Funding Your Sexual Abuse Claim?

As you can see, you have many funding options for your sexual abuse claim. Which one is right for you will depend on your personal circumstances.

Contact us if you want to talk through your options on 08000 124 246, or complete the short online form on this page.

Please note, we only represent clients with cases which can be brought in courts in England and Wales.