Barristers swallow risk with more no win, no fee

Top barristers are increasingly ditching brief fees and hourly rates for riskier conditional fee arrangements (CFAs).

Research by The Lawyer reveals that a number of London’s leading sets undertook up to 450 per cent more CFA no win, no fee cases in 2003-04 than in the previous 12 months.

While in some cases the spurt reflects the growth of personal injury cases, where the CFA payment arrangement is more commonly used, commercial sets are also seeing increasing numbers of cases taken on a no win, no fee basis.

Leading banking set 3 Verulam Buildings reaped the rewards of a CFA after acting on Tayeb v HSBC, a widely-reported action over the sale of a database of internet names to a Libyan telecoms company.

Civil/commercial set 39 Essex Street took on 110 more CFAs in the last financial year than in 2002-03.

Matrix Chambers’ CFA cases have soared over the last financial year, when it undertook nine CFAs compared with just two in the previous 12 months.

Cases taken on a CFA basis
Chambers CFAs 2003-04 CFAs 2002-03
39 Essex Street 360 250
2 Gray’s Inn Square 20 10
4 Pump Court 16 13
Landmark 15 6
Matrix 9 2
Source: The Lawyer