Lawyer’s fees

The fees are determined according to the deontological principles governing the lawyer profession, as explained below.

They are established in accordance with the client, in respect of the mandate complexity and time required to work on the matter, by application of one of the two following methods, depending on the file:

  • Fees based on time spent: This is my hourly rate, of which each client is informed pre-contractually, multiplied by the time spent working on the client’s file. This method of fee calculation is used each time it looks difficult to assess the time required to complete the assignment entrusted by the client.
  • • Fixed fee: This method is used for the provision of pre-determined services and is submitted to the agreement of the client prior to perform any services on his behalf. Sometimes, a success fee can be added, submitted by written approval to the client through a fee agreement first. This success fee is a percentage of the amounts recovered or saved on behalf of the client, further to legal proceedings or completion of a transaction.

Lawyer’s fees are subject to VAT which, in France, is 20%. For provision of services in France to Swiss residents, VAT is not applicable pursuant to the article 259 B 4° of the French General Tax Code.

Disbursements and other costs incurred to the client are re-invoiced upon presentation of documentary evidence.

What is an attorney's fee?

The fee is the amount of money paid to a lawyer in return for the services provided, either legal or judicial.

In accordance with Article 10 alinea 1 in fine of the Law n°71-1130 of 31 December 1971, « Fees for consultation, assistance, advice, drafting private legal instruments, and presenting oral argument shall be set by agreement with the client ».

The alinea 2 of this article sets out that «Unless there is a lawyer-client agreement, fees shall be set according to standard practices, depending on the client’s financial situation, the difficulty of the case, the costs incurred by the lawyer, and the lawyer’s reputation and services performed.”

The Article 11.2 of the National Regulations of the lawyers’ profession adds other criteria, which implies that the remuneration of the lawyer is determined according to the following elements :

  • time spent working on the file ;
  • the research work ;
  • the nature and the complexity of the case ;
  • the importance of the involved interests ;
  • the impact of the expenses and costs of the law firm ;
  • the reputation, diplomas, seniority, experience and specialisation of the lawyer ;
  • the advantages and result obtained for the client through his/her work ;
  • the financial situation of the client.

Furthermore, the lawyer is entitled to require a success fee in addition to his/her standard fees, according to the result of the case or the services provided. In such a case, the fee agreement which sets out not only the payment of services effectively provided, but also the principle of a success fee according to the result of the case or the services provided, is legal.

In principle, the fees are calculated by application of an hourly rate to the number of hours spent working on the case (fee = hourly rate x hours spent).

Upon completion of his/her mandate, the lawyer sends a final detailed statement to the client reflecting the total amount of fees due in respect of the time spent, the disbursements and various expenses, the amount of reserves already paid and, if applicable, the remaining outstanding balance.

For cases in which the lawyer can anticipate the time to be spent, it is possible to set up a fixed fee. In such cases, the fees will be paid entirely before the end of the lawyer’s mandate (before final hearings for judicial cases).

The success fee is only due when it has been agreed in writing by the lawyer and his/her client through the signature of a fee agreement.

The Article 10 of the Law of 31 December 1971 sets out that « Any setting of fees based only on the outcome of the case shall be prohibited. An agreement that provides for compensation for the duties that are carried out, as well as an additional fee based on the result that is obtained or the service that was rendered, shall be lawful.” The success fee is an additional remuneration to fees based on time spent or a fixed fee.

It is due when the result is final. It is calculated on the gain, the saving or the advantage provided to the client as follows :

  • The gain is the amount of the judicial sentence handed down by a Court against the other party or the total amount of money paid further to a transaction or any other alternative dispute resolution settlement.
  • The saving is made in the reduction of the other party’s claim further to a judicial sentence, a discontinuance of the case, or further to a transaction or any other alternative dispute resolution settlement.
  • The advantage is any benefit not assessable economically but which provides a real and personal satisfaction to the client ; such advantage must be predetermined.

In accordance with the Law n°92-4442 of 31 December 1992, fees are due and payable upon receipt. Any outstanding invoice unpaid within 30 days shall incur interest equal to one and half times the legal interest rate applicable on the day the invoice was issued.

Lawyers’ fees are subject to VAT, of which the current applicable rate is 20%.

Expenses, disbursements and other fees

The lawyer’s fees are distinct from the costs and disbursements, which are re-invoiced to the client upon presentation of documentary evidence or a detailed statement added to the lawyer’s invoice.

  • Costspaid by the lawyer while working on the client’s file, such as travel costs, phone calls, case file preparation and archiving, copies etc…
  • Disbursementsare the mandatory expenses that the lawyer has to pay on behalf of his/her client according to the mandate. They mainly relate to proceedings costs (tax stamps, registration duties, hearing fees, legal advertising costs, registry fees…) They mainly relate to proceedings costs (tax stamps, registration duties, hearing fees, legal advertising costs, registry fees…)
  • Other fees incurred are for the participation of any legal professional that the lawyer would have to instruct within the frame of his/her mandate, such as bailiff’ fees, notary fees etc..). Most of the time, if applicable, invoices of these legal professionals will be paid directly by the client.

The reimbursment or compensation by the opposite party

At the outcome of a litigation, the Court may decide to sentence the opposing party to reimburse expenses paid by the client and to compensate the lawyer’s fees paid for the legal proceedings. In civil cases, such compensation is laid down in Article 700 of the French Code of Civil Procedure.

Legal expenses insurance

Most insurance companies provide legal expenses cover. n such a case, the client remains free to choose his/her lawyer. In this case, the fees of the law firm’s will be paid either entirely, or in part, by the insurance company. The client will be informed in advance by the lawyer whether the insurance cover is sufficient to pay all his/her fees or if only one part of the fees will be paid by the insurance company.