Search :

Structure of French Attorney's fees

a brief overview

In litigation in France, as a matter of law and practice, full costs do not habitually follow the action and thus French Courts very rarely order the losing party to pay anything like the full amount to the other side in regard to costs, notably amounts expended in attorneys fees.

It is possibly for this reason, among others, that in France, once the initial writ has been served, some 95% of matters would tend to go to full trial rather than an out of court settlement being reached.

Thus, an early suggestion of settlement by Attorneys from outside France could possibly be perceived by French Counsel to be indicative that they consider that they have a weak case.

Pure contingency fee arrangements (pacte de quota litis) are strictly forbidden under French law and a French Attorney may be subject to being disbarred in the event that he or she were to conclude solely a contingency fee agreement with his or her client.

A written prior fee agreement agreed with the client which is subject to an uplift in the event of a particularly positive result and of which the calculation is set out in advance, is however permitted.

The relatively few French law practices dealing with non-contentious corporate and international matters, but who are also able to handle litigation, tend to bill according to time spent usually based upon the complexity of the matter as well as the seniority, skills and experience of the fee earner.

The hourly rates applied in France by business law practices vary according to the renown of the firm, the specialist area, the urgency of the work, the location of the law practice etc, and average figures encountered may be between 250 Euros and 750 Euros the higher end corresponding to the major US and UK firms based in central Paris.

However French litigators generally, as opposed to those who are used to dealing with an international clientele, tend to bill according to somewhat different criteria, e.g. such as the worth of the matter at suit, the reputation of the Attorney dealing with the matter, the result obtained etc.

For a specific Structure of Attorney's fees enquiry, please click here