The Federal Court of Justice has issued several important rulings on attorney’s fees in recent years. The primary issue was formal errors in the compensation agreement between lawyer and client. The focus was particularly on the questions of what is required of such an agreement and what the consequences are if it is incorrectly drafted. This article summarizes the relevant BGH decisions and explains their implications for practice.
Errors in the remuneration agreement
The agreement on the attorney’s fee is an important part of the mandate contract. It regulates the amount of remuneration that the lawyer receives for his work. However, certain requirements must be met when drafting the agreement. Otherwise, there may be formal errors that have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the agreement. The most common errors include unclear wording or missing information on the amount of the fee.
Case Law of the BGH
In recent years, the Federal Court of Justice has ruled on various aspects of the remuneration agreement. In doing so, it has formulated clear guidelines as to what must be observed when drafting the agreement. In particular, it has emphasized that a clear and understandable wording of the agreement is necessary to enable the client to make an informed decision. In addition, the court ruled that it is mandatory to specify the specific amount of the fee and that a reference to the attorney’s fee schedule is not sufficient. Another important ruling concerns the case that an agreement is faulty: In such a case, the lawyer may only demand an appropriate fee calculated on the basis of the actual time spent.
These and other aspects are explained in more detail below.
Attorney’s fee: Current BGH rulings on formal errors in the remuneration agreement
Lawyers are obliged to charge their clients an appropriate fee. The amount of the fee depends on various factors, such as the difficulty of the case, the scope of the lawyer’s work or the importance of the matter for the client. As a rule, a remuneration agreement between the lawyer and the client is necessary for the agreement of the fee. But what happens if there are formal errors in this agreement?