Ambulance Chasers! They wont help past mediation! They will take all your money! They don’t know what they are doing!
We see lots of pretty bizarre claims made against no win – no fee providers in the Employment Law World. So are they valid?
Absolutely, there are some shocking providers. But equally there are some shocking lawyers and plumbers in the world too.
No win – no fee or contingency operators are far from a new thing here in New Zealand or even across the world. They get a pretty bad rap within the States in the personal injury sphere with dedicated law firms chasing the big payout from insurance companies.
Pop culture has come to portray contingency lawyers as desperate and generally incompetent sharks as compared to the slick Harvey Dent style high end lawyers, who always win.
I suppose there is truth to this portrayal to some degree. Its unlikely to see a Harvard graduate touting for business in an emergency room, no they will most likely go straight to a top tier firm on a path to unimaginable heights.
Is there space for No Win, No Fee Providers in New Zealand?
So Hollywood aside, is there a space for contingency providers in New Zealand’s employment law world or should you stay away?
Well frankly not only is there space but they play a critical part within the landscape.
The problem with lawyers, is the fees. And goodness its not just a stereo type when I say they can charge like wounded bulls. We see crazy stories here, almost on the daily, about what lawyers have charged often before a case has even started. Just last week we saw a regional lawyer who had charged $16 000.00 for two meetings and an exchange of two letters.
In an employment case, given the remedies available, this is just plain crazy. Generally speaking spending that sort of money is beyond the realms of reality for most people. And what is the return on that investment given that spend would be irrecoverable, and a grievance hadn’t been filed!
Contingency providers provide an access to justice that conventional lawyers just can’t provide. My view has always been that if a person has just been fired they don’t want to face huge bills given they have just lost their source of income. It’s an added stress at a traumatic time, that can be avoided.
Plenty of New Zealanders sadly live paycheck to paycheck and even those who have a rainy-day fund do not want to face blowing through that on an unknown journey. So what no win – no fee providers offer is an access to justice that lawyers cannot provide.
An employee who faces a battle for what is right, and who has been treated poorly by their employer can secure answers, and resolution where if paying a lawyer they may not. This sort of service and access to justice should be celebrated not vilified.
I can see why lawyers look down on us, but the reality is what we provide is a truly amazing and frankly noble thing.
Well, they will say, you get what you pay for. Pay peanuts you get monkeys, as the saying goes.
What Sacked Kiwi has to offer:
I of course cannot speak for all contingency operators, but here at Sacked Kiwi I know that we provide a help line that services 10 000 Kiwi employees each year with pragmatic advice that they would not get elsewhere. At no cost
I know we take on unjustified dismissal cases from across New Zealand and cover our clients costs all the way through to the Employment Court and I believe we are the only firm in New Zealand that offers this service all the way through enforcement also. I know we are the only firm that works with Private Investigators (shout out to our friends at Helix) to get swift results.
I know we are team of skilled and passionate professionals who are proud of the results we achieve daily, helping kiwis secure their justice. We regularly attend the Employment Relations Authority and are super proud of the wins we secure. We have a range of skill sets and specialties, so we have the right person for the right file. We value our values and are focused on aiding our client’s securing their justice.
All we do is employment law and we know it inside and out. Unfortunately this is where lots of general practice lawyers become unstuck as its not what they do all the time and they don’t understand the application of this unique jurisdiction. I have had the most alarming conversations with general practice lawyers who frankly do not understand the intricacies of the Employment Relations Act.
Don’t get me wrong there are amazing, dedicated employment lawyers in New Zealand who are genuinely spectacular at their craft who are deserving of the fees they charge. But there are plenty who are not.
And don’t get me wrong there are even more advocates who work in the no win – no fee space who have no business offering advice.
So who should you turn to when you are looking for employment law advice?
Well, maybe the place to start your consideration is not the fees and how they are charged. Maybe the place is to start with a person or an organization that you trust who can give you practical advice for your situation.
Don’t commit quickly, ask lots of questions, and make sure you know what the potential outcomes are. Challenge them to guide you towards your best outcome and if it doesn’t feel right, then keep looking.