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How do I settle a dispute with a lawyer?

Verified 01 January 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

The settlement of a dispute between a litigant and his lawyer differs depending on the subject of the dispute (dispute over costs, misconduct...).

The dispute over legal fees may relate to fees (freely fixed remuneration) and/or emoluments, costs and disbursements (regulated by law).

Fees

If you dispute a lawyer's fees, you must file a fee-charging procedure with the bearer the order to which that lawyer is attached. But you can also refer the consumption of the profession of lawyer to the Ombudsman beforehand.

Referring to the Ombudsman for the consumption of the legal profession

The role of the Consumer Ombudsman of the legal profession is to help you, in a neutral and impartial way, to reach an amicable agreement with the lawyer.

Before you refer the matter to the mediator, you must first make a written complaint to your lawyer in an attempt to resolve the dispute amicably. If you fail to do so, you may refer the matter to the Ombudsman for the consumption of the legal profession, but you must do so within a maximum period of one year. The referral can be made online, or by simple postal mail.

The mediator, once seized, first checks whether you meet the conditions required for him to carry out his mission. It then informs the parties to the dispute of its referral and requests their participation in mediation. If the parties to the dispute agree, the mediator shall seek a solution and submit it to them for approval. Approval of the agreement by the parties ends the conflict.

If the mediator considers that the conditions are not in place for the mediator to intervene, or if the lawyer with whom you are in dispute refuses to participate in the mediation process or to approve the proposed agreement, you have the opportunity to refer the case to the bar officer of the Bar Association of which he is responsible.

Seize the mediator or the bar-bearer to contest his lawyer's fees

Seize the Bar Officer

In case of referral to the President, your objection must be made by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or delivered directly to the order of the lawyers concerned, against receipt.

Seize the mediator or the bar-bearer to contest his lawyer's fees

Who shall I contact

If the owner responds to the request within 4 months of its receipt, his arbitration may be subject (in case of disagreement) to an appeal before the 1to President of the competent Court of Appeal within 1 month.

If the bar-bearer does not reply to the request, his silence opens the right of the applicant to seize directly the 1to President of the competent Court of Appeal within 1 month of the expiry of the 4 months.

In both cases, 1to The President must be notified by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

Fees, fees and disbursements

The procedure to be used to challenge fees, fees and disbursements your lawyer differs depending on whether or not the case for which you used the lawyer has already been decided by a court.

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A court decision was issued

To challenge cost of legal aid, a request for verification may be filed with the court's auditor who has decided the dispute. The auditor secretary may be the director of court registry services, or even a clerk.

You must bring to the competent court the documents relating to the costs claimed by your lawyer and which you dispute. You can also send your documents by mail.

After a possible rectification of the account, the auditor must provide you with a certificate of verification. The latter must be notified to the lawyer and may be subject to appeal before the president of the court.

No court decision was issued

To challenge cost of legal aid, a request for verification may be lodged with the verifying secretary of the court competent to decide the case.

You must bring to this court the documents relating to the disputed costs claimed by your lawyer. You can also send your documents by mail.

If no court decision has been issued, the competent secretary shall be:

  • of the court or of the local court for disputes under €10,000,
  • or the court in other cases.

After a possible rectification of the account, the auditor must provide you with a certificate of verification. The latter must be notified to the lawyer and may be subject to appeal before the president of the court.

You are free to change your lawyer at any time during the proceedings. However, you will have to pay him the fees already due.

Your former lawyer will also have to return your file.

In the event of a dispute over the return of documents, you must refer the case to the Bar Association by letter

  • recommended with receipt request
  • or cash back.

The competent bar-bearer shall be the bar-bearer where the lawyer concerned is registered.

Who shall I contact

You may have other difficulties with your lawyer: unexplained delays, lack of response to correspondence, repeated refusal of appointments, absence of counsel at the hearing, unexplained references from the hearing, absence of explanations, absence of minutes, etc.

In this case, you can enter the bearer of the order to which the lawyer in question belongs. You can give him a simple letter explaining the dispute.

Who shall I contact