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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 the losing party rarely has to pay a substantial amount to the other side in regard to costs.

It is possibly for this reason among others that, once the initial writ has been served, some 95% of matters would tend to go to full trial and this is generally the perspective of the typical French Attorney.

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

Contingency fee arrangements (pacte de quota litis) are strictly forbidden by Statute and a French Attorney may be subject to being disbarred in the event that he were to conclude solely a contingency fee agreement with his client. A written fee agreement 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 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 and the identity of the fee earner.

The national hourly rate also varies according to the specialist area, urgency of the work, location of the law practice etc, and figures encountered may be between 220 Euros (circa 255 $US) and 450 Euros (circa 521 $US) on average.

However litigators generally, as opposed to those who are used to dealing with an international clientele, tend to bill according to slightly 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.

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