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How are lawyers  ‘ fees determined What are the different payment methods? Can we dispute the amount of his fees? 

Fees set freely:

Regarding  the fees of a lawyer, there is no scale, minimum or ceiling and it is the principle of freedom that applies. The fees are therefore free, regardless of the nature of the service rendered: in the judicial field (trial, etc.) or legal (advice, etc.). However, the amount may vary according to the experience of the lawyer, the notoriety of the firm or the difficulty of the file… The lawyer has a duty of transparency and must regularly keep his client informed of the amount of his fees. Do not hesitate to address the financial question from the first meeting. It is also advisable to also request a quote.

By the hour or by the package:

The lawyer’s remuneration can be determined in two ways: at the hourly rate according to the time spent on the file, or according to a flat rate. In this case, the lawyer invoices his client for a lump sum for the entire service to be performed. To this remuneration can also be added a performance commission which represents a percentage of the sums that the lawyer will manage to earn for his client. This additional result must be determined when the file is opened. Regarding the lawyer’s invoices, these must be particularly detailed. In addition, the lawyer may ask his client for the payment of a provision on costs and fees at the opening of the file.

Fee agreement possible:

The fee agreement is a written contract that details a certain number of elements: method of remuneration, fixed price or hourly rate, terms of payment, late payment interest, etc. Even if the fee agreement is recommended by most bars, it is however not mandatory and therefore cannot be demanded by the client.
In France, contrary to what may be practiced in other countries, notably in the United States, the “quota litis pact”, that is to say the agreement by which a lawyer and his client agree that the fees would only be due if the lawsuit is won and depending on the result obtained, is purely and simply prohibited.
However, it is possible to agree on “results” remuneration which must be provided for in a prior fee agreement. In this case, the lawyer receives a “minimum” remuneration (generally fixed) to which is added a “complementary” remuneration if he achieves a particular result. The surcharge may be fixed or proportional to the result obtained.

Can I dispute the charges?

The client may dispute the amount of the fees during the procedure or once the work has been carried out. For this, he must seize the president of the bar association on which his lawyer depends. The President of the Bar then summons the two parties to hear them, then renders his decision within 4 months: if he agrees with the lawyer, the initial invoice is maintained; if he agrees with the customer, the invoice is reduced. If the decision does not satisfy one of the two parties, it is always possible to appeal and seize the first president of the court of appeal. If his decision is still deemed unsatisfactory, it can still be appealed.
DAMY law firm , Nice, 2022