02 Oct What are claims harvesting websites?
Claims harvesting or claim farming websites are set up to aggregate personal injury claims and gather personal data. This data is then passed on to third-party legal firms by someone connected to the website operator.
These websites are often misleadingly presented as if they are run by solicitors or offering the expert legal services of personal injury solicitors. Claims harvesting websites may not be run by an Irish solicitor firm and may be operated outside of Ireland or the EU where legislation on data usage and storage may not be as strict.
How can I identify a claims harvesting website in Ireland?
Irish solicitors are governed by the Law Society of Ireland and the Solicitors Advertising Regulations. These regulations state that a solicitor firm cannot advertise based on terms such as “no win no fee”, “no foal, no fee”, “free consultation with a solicitor” or other advertisements based on potential settlements.
What is No Win No Fee?
‘No win no fee’, also known as ‘no foal, no fee’ is a fee arrangement common to many solicitor firms in Ireland and Dublin. This means a solicitor will not charge fees for their legal services if a case is unsuccessful. However, if a case is successful in court or settled out of court, legal fees will apply. ‘No win no fee’ allows people to pursue a claim where they otherwise may not have the funds to do so.
However, many claimants mistakenly believe they will incur no costs if their case is not successful. Often, the claimant is still liable for their own medical report fees and/ or the Defendant’s costs.
While solicitors cannot advertise based on these terms, it does not say that solicitor firms cannot offer their legal services on a contingency basis, and many firms do. However, as these regulations only apply to solicitors, claims harvesting websites can advertise on this basis, as they may not be officially affiliated with an Irish solicitor firm.
If you see any website advertising based on ‘no win no fee’ or ‘free consultation with a solicitor’, or any claims about potential amount of compensation you will know that you are not dealing with Irish personal injury solicitors.
Do you operate on a ‘no win no fee’ basis?
Irish solicitors can enter into no win no fee agreements with clients but are strictly prohibited from advertising their services on this basis.
In December 2017, the Irish High Court ordered a claims harvesting website to be shut down The website led visitors to believe it was offering legal services, when in fact it was not officially linked with any Irish solicitors or Irish solicitor firms. You can read the Irish Times article on this case here.