Deciding attorney’s fees for plaintiff
As we all know, court orders on plaintiffs’ attorney fees in civil, legal, and criminal cases differ, and the concept is clearer in civil cases of all types, except when they are financial, real estate, commercial, work cases, or otherwise. So what is the cause of this discrepancy? According to the reparation rule or the notion of culpability, the plaintiff shall be judged for attorney’s fees as part of his demands in the action. Article 111/2 of the QAGM for the year 1983 A.D. stated that the court would have sole authority to determine on attorney fees. But the question that arises is, what is the criterion that the court applies in awarding attorney fees to the plaintiff? Do the courts have guidelines and grounds to follow when doing this? Are attorney costs for the courts different from those of other professions, such as physicians, engineers, craftspeople, and so on? Personally, I don’t perceive any distinction between these occupations. The legal profession is a free profession performed by attorneys via their offices, and fee negotiations take place in offices and are controlled by a set of complicated and overlapping regulations. These include the professional lawyer’s age, academic qualification, the nature of the case in question, the extent of its complexity or simplicity, the time taken to study the case, the lawyer’s role in the pre-litigation stage, the time taken for the case procedures, and in general every professional effort required by the client’s interest in the case, in terms of contacting the litigants and their lawyers, and the client’s witnesses in the case, and so on. So, how does the court assess what reasonable fees the plaintiff is entitled to in order to give judgment on them in the face of the defendant?! Is there any legal texts, judicial publications, or guidelines issued by the chief justice or the Bar Association, for example, that explain how the judgment of attorney fees is assessed for the plaintiff in the courts?! The answer is, of course, no. So, how do the courts calculate attorneys’ fees in the cases they hear? In fact, the general trend and followed approach is for judges to estimate the fees that the plaintiffs deserve in the face of the defendants, before the courts, as a personal assessment, but I believe that the matter should be ruled by objective and procedural rules in litigation procedures, and in a law Evidence in particular, so that the judgment in this part is based on clear normative visions, as stated in Article 9 of the Evidence Law for the year 1994: In any of the following circumstances, evidence is deemed to be rejected: A-…….. b- Evidence based on the personal judge’s expertise. As a result, the judge’s order issued in the section relating to attorney’s fees in the case that evidence is not submitted with the rationality and proportionality of the adjudicated amount is included in the definition of the returned evidence. Because it is included in the meaning of the aforementioned article if it is given without depending on the well-established principles of assessing and admitting evidence. But, if the judgment in this section is valid and indisputable since it was based on following the objective and procedural norms of proof, what are these rules that should be followed in this case? In order for the plaintiff to pay legal fees in line with the law, I believe he must fulfill the following conditions:
1- A paragraph in the plaintiff’s filing must clarify that the plaintiff’s actions is what motivated them to seek the services of a lawyer to represent them in the litigation proceedings. For example, the plaintiff received a confessional judgment, therefore he does not deserve to be sentenced to any expenses in the face of the defendant, because he unilaterally resorted to the judiciary and the recourse was not necessary, because the right claimed was not in question at all.
2- In their petition, the plaintiff must indicate the fees sought as compensation.
3- The claimed fees must be included in the lawsuit’s pill, and their fees must be paid. They must also be mentioned in the demands paragraph.
4- In his defense memorandum, the defendant is given the chance to react to this paragraph by either recognizing or disagreeing to the amount of the fees sought. He may file an opposing claim based on what he believes to be fair.
5- Neither party shall be judged in the portion of its demands relating to fees unless it produces adequate evidence to substantiate its reasonableness in line with what is known from the typical foundations on the assessment of fair fees.
The evidence of a lawyer with expertise and credentials comparable to the plaintiff’s counsel provides the ultimate word on reasonableness.
6- In line with the concept of equal opportunity before the court, the defendant has the right to question the evidence given against him in this portion by denying it and showing what contradicts it.
7- The court is bound by the evidence presented when estimating the fees, and the judge does not have the right to override the evidence presented to his personal opinion regarding the work done by the lawyer before him, because in this case he has included his judgment in the fees section within the definition of the returned evidence stipulated in Article 9/b of the Evidence Law.
As previously stated, this is my contribution to this topic, which I feel requires substantial debate by other attorneys, and I see the need for fellow lawyers and judges to share their ideas through writing, seminars, and workshops until the concept is complete.
I decided to post my contribution after observing, over my more than twenty-five years of experience in the courts, that this issue necessitates an extended debate among all of us in order to unite our opinions.
Arabic version written by: Ahmed Saeed Ibrahim.
Translated and proofread by: Alaa Awadallah Mohammed Khalifa.