The General Assembly of the Federation of European Bars meeting at Lisbon on 23rd May 1998 ;
Having at its intermediate meeting at Liverpool in October 1997 and at its congress which took place yesterday in Lisbon examined the professional legal and ethical rules and regulations in force for the different Member Bars to determine lawyers fees in the different areas of the practice of law ;
Taking into account Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty of Rome and the other European or national regulations which apply in respect of free competition ;
Bearing in mind the common interests of those before the courts and of members of the Bar in free competition and the need for clarity in their economic relationships ;
1. Invites Member Bars of the Federation which apply fee scales to the extent to which they are not imposed by law to cease fixing lawyers fees in this way and to end all the similar rules and practices relating to fee scales for lawyers ;
2. Considers that it is advisable to maintain the principle of the prohibition against contingency fees (pacte de quota litis)
3. Considers that it is to be encouraged in the interest of clients to allow setting the level of fees taking into account the result of the case even when this criterion is preponderant in the final calculation of the fee.
4. Considers in such a case that the prohibition against contingency fees (pacte de quota litis) should not prevent an agreement being reached between the lawyer and his client involving remuneration based on a percentage of the damages or sums recovered provided that :
(a) this criterion is not exclusive,
(b) that a basic level of fees for the lawyers services is agreed, and
(c) that the disbursements incurred in carrying out the instructions in the case are paid by the client (Pacte de Palmario)
5. Insists on the importance of clear information for clients from lawyers at the beginning of their professional relationship on the manner of calculating fees
6. Recommends the agreement between lawyers and their clients on conclusion of the instructions in respect of future fees.
7. Urges the Member Bars to adopt these practices and to establish model form fee agreements which should be available both to the bar members and to litigants.
8. Advocates that the secretariat of the Federation gathers together the fee agreements available in the different bars and distributes them to the members.
Recommends that the Member Bars favour :
information being given to clients by lawyers on the method of calculating their fees ;
agreement on fees at the same time as agreement on the instructions ;
and the establishment of model form agreements which should be available both to lawyers and litigants/those before the courts ;
Advocates that the secretariat of the Federation gathers together the fee agreements available in the different bars and distributes them to the members.