General principle

Lawyers are entitled to a reasonable fee for their work and shall not charge an unreasonable fee. A lawyer shall not generate unnecessary work.

Explanatory note

The basis for the claim of a Member’s fees for services performed may be contractual or statutory.

The Member shall make a clear and transparent arrangement on fees with the client jointly with the giving and taking of instructions.

If permitted by law or applicable rules of professional conduct, such arrangement may contain an agreement on the limitation of the Member’s liability. On whatever basis a fee arrangement is made and the reasonableness.

Reasonableness is normally determined with a view to the nature of the assignment, its difficulty, the amount involved, the scope of work to be undertaken and other suitable criteria.

The Member shall strive to achieve the most cost-effective resolution of the client’s dispute.

The Member’s invoices shall be submitted in accordance with the agreement with the client and statutory rules, if any. Where permitted, a Member may require the payment of reasonable deposits to cover the likely fees and expenses as a condition to commencing or continuing his or her work.

The Member may have a lawful right of retention or lien if the client instructs the lawyer to transfer all the papers and files to another lawyer.

A Member shall also hold separate from their own business or personal property any legal fees and expenses that a client has paid in advance, to be withdrawn by the Member only as those fees are earned or expenses are incurred.

If a dispute arises between the client and the Member as to their entitlement to withdraw funds for fees or expenses, then, subject to applicable law, the disputed portion of the funds must be held separate until the dispute is resolved.

The undisputed portion of the funds shall be promptly distributed to the client. If a Member engages or is involved with another to handle a matter, the responsibility for such other lawyer’s fees and expenses shall be clarified between the client and the Member beforehand. In the absence of such clarification and depending on applicable law the Member so having involved another lawyer (vice versa) may be liable for the fees and expenses of the other.

International implications

When engaging in cross-border practice, the Member should investigate whether arrangements on fees, payments of deposits and limitations of liability are permitted under all applicable rules and, if relevant, the rules which govern the responsibility for fees of other lawyers who may become involved.

In particular, a contingency fee or pactum de quota litis is permitted in certain jurisdictions provided certain requirements are met but prohibited as a matter of public policy in other jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, it is not appropriate for a Member to ask another lawyer or a third party for a fee, or to pay a fee to another lawyer or a third party for referring work.