Principles applicable to fees:
- fees are freely set by mutual agreement between the attorney and his client,
- they are approved in a written agreement (ethical requirement)
Fees must be predictable and justified. They cover:
- the firm’s operating costs estimated at 60% of all collected revenues;
- the remuneration of the work done by the attorney.
The following criteria are considered when fixing the amount of the fees:
- the emergency and swiftness of the attorney’s action,
- the type and complexity of the case,
- the importance of the dispute,
- the time dedicated to the study and preparation of the case,
- the magnitude of research and synthesis work,
- the financial situation of the client,
- the result obtained.
The issue of the fees will be dealt with during the first meeting, to avoid any misunderstanding or uncertainty, as to the cost of the proceedings.
There are different ways of calculating fees:
Flat fees are expressed without tax, and contingency fees determined on the basis of the outcome of the action may be added.
Contingency fees: these fees are added to the attorney’s initial fees and are determined as a preset percentage (without tax) of all amounts awarded to the client, or of any gain on claims made by the adverse party.
French law formally forbids the determination of fees, which is only based on the outcome of an action.
If you have a legal expenses insurance, the cost of your action may be totally or partially covered.
Meaning of « legal expenses insurance »:A legal expenses insurance covers the procedural, expert assessment and attorney’s fees incurred under a dispute between the insured and a third party.
The insured litigant can therefore reduce the cost of proceedings.
How to know whether you have a legal expenses insurance?You must contact the insurers (who provide your housing or car insurance, for example), and your bank, to know whether you are covered by a legal expenses clause.
You must report the « loss » to initiate the coverage procedure.
Proceed as follows:
- Amicable settlement with the attorney
The client must attempt to settle the dispute with the attorney by sending him a written complaint.
- Pre-mediation procedure
The client may apply to the « médiateur de la consommation de la profession d’avocat » (the consumer ombudsman for attorneys at law):
Jérôme Hercé, médiateur de la consommation de la profession d’avocat
Mail address: 22 rue de Londres, 75009 Paris, France
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dispute referred to the President of the Bar Association
The client may apply to the President of the Bar Association of which the lawyer is a member, for any complaint pertaining to the performance, interpretation or termination of a fee agreement.
Ms. Sarah VALDURIEZ is a member of the Versailles Bar Association, whose President can be reached at the following address:
Monsieur le Bâtonnier
Ordre des Avocats du Barreau de Versailles
3, place André Mignot
N.B.: Your insurance company may refer you to the lawyer with whom it usually works.
Since you are free to choose your lawyer, you can give your insurance company the name of the lawyer you will have chosen. Your counsel’s fees will then be covered in the same fashion as those of the lawyer recommended by your insurers.