Queensland Law Society

What about advertising “no win no fee”?

In personal injury advertising, under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 you cannot use this or any similar phrase except on your law practice's own website.

Generally, use of this or similar expressions, without qualification, is likely to be misleading or deceptive, and so would be a breach of Rule 36 of the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 ('ASCR') unless at the time of advertising you intend to indemnify any unsuccessful client against payment of costs to any other party and the client is not required to pay disbursements.

Otherwise, you would have to take great care to ensure that there is clear disclosure in the advertisement of any sums that could be payable by the client regardless of the outcome of the case, specifically addressing the possibility of liability for disbursements or third party costs.  A bare statement such as “conditions apply”, without further details, is unlikely to suffice.  (The same comments may apply to your willingness to take on all potential clients on a ‘no win no fee’ basis).

In the case of Legal Practitioners Complaints Committee and Browne [2006] WASAT 201 the Western Australia State Administrative Tribunal found that the words “no compensation = no legal fees” was misleading and amounted to unprofessional conduct, as a member of the public may think they have no liability for any fees or costs, rather than just those of their solicitors. The Committee in this case also complained that the advertisement did not disclose that a client may have a liability to the law practice for fees and disbursements in the event that the law practice ceased to act for the client, although the Tribunal did not make a finding in relation to that.

You should not advertise ‘no win no fee’ for criminal law and some family law matters, as such agreements are prohibited by s.323(2) of the Legal Profession Act 2007.

See further paragraph 11 of the Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs Guidelines for the Advertising of Legal Services.