Lawyer charging for... basically nothing

43 posts in this topic

Ah, klubbnika, your Response didn't Show on the Forum. To answer, I have already written to her offering to pay at rate A, which she has refused.

She has slapped a Mahnbescheid on me, which I am contesting. I'd like to know if there's a legal entity to which I can turn to plead my case. Lawyers hesitate to sue other lawyers, so I'm looking for an Amt or Kammer which concerns itself with These manners.

toBnruG: the particulars of the case are here unimportant. I have followed all the steps needed, I am trying to find the next one.

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

food mom, I'm not interested in the particulars of your case. What I'm interested in is how your contract with the lawyer was made.

 

If you phoned her up and said, "by the way, please don't work on XYZ because I don't want that and I won't pay for it", then you can stop pursuing this right now, pay all outstanding bills at the price she demands, and try to put it behind you.

If, however, you have any written documentation describing the scope of this lawyer's involvement in your divorce case, then please let us know and somebody with legal knowhow might just get online and give you some good news regarding how to proceed.

 

Read exactly the thread you are posting this question on, and you will see that verbal agreements don't add up to shit when it comes to lawyers. If you didn't get it in writing, you have to pay what they ask for. File a complaint by all means. But you have no proof unless you have it written down.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

toBnruG, I understand. From the beginning, before I signed anything, I made it perfectly clear that she was to deal with Unterhalt and ONLY Unterhalt, else I would find someone else. This was my express wish with my first call to the Kanzlei. I told this to her Rechtsanwaltfachangestelltin as this was a pre-requisite to my engaging the lawyer. The lawyer agreed, I made an appointment for the next day.

I said that she should deal with only the Unterhalt (I had someone else dealing with the house), that she should not make any phonecalls or appointments with the opposing lawyer without Consulting me first;  she agreed, if I would make a pre-payment. I agreed, and she left to fetch the papers for me to sign.

As I had already made my wishes quite clear, I had no reason to suspect that the papers presented for signing stated otherwise (which I found they did).

I repeated reiterated my wished (in front of witnesses) as the months dragged on, and she repeatedly ignored them.

I had also told my ex-husband that we should settle the Unterhalt first, then deal with the house. I had not unterstood about Einkommenausgleich until a friend explained that this is Pflicht, unless the Verfristete time expires (3 years after filing). As this time is drawing near, I wanted to get this out of the way first. The house isn't going anywhere (physically).

The lawyer really dropped the ball/went somewhere into left field, as she tried to a) tie the Unterhalt into the sale of the house,  fantasize about the worth of the house (it has been Amtliche appraised, yet she extrapolated on what she thought the present market value to be), c) did not do her homework - not once did she look into the Grundbuch for outstanding debts owed, and fit them into her math.

In essence, her last bill was based on the fantasized worth of the sale of the house. The house sold for well under her computations (which for other reasons works in my favour - don't ask, it's messy).

So you see, this is not just a case of overcharging. It has become complicate because of this Mahnbescheid. THAT is what concerns me. One can always haggle over a Price but I am looking for the next legal recourse.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for providing more details and I hope somebody can help you. However...

4 hours ago, food mom said:

As I had already made my wishes quite clear, I had no reason to suspect that the papers presented for signing stated otherwise (which I found they did).

... this bit looks particularly unfortunate. And from what I can gather there is definitely no written support for your claims, but you might have witnesses to spoken agreements (realise that they are not witnesses to agreements if they only heard your side of the story... they have to have witnessed both you and the lawyer agreeing to something).

 

Sorry I can't be of help but, again, I hope that somebody else can be.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, I did not read through the contracts, my reasons are stated above.

Yes, I do have witnesses (three), all of whom are in her employ. One was actually in a few of our Meetings, and I argued with her about the continuation of the house/Unterhalt combination (the creative math came up at times). It was perfectly clear that I did not want to persue this path, and that they were wasting my time doing work in an area where they were not welcome.

Yes, I do have emails stating my wishes. They were ignored.

 So, my original question remains - what can I do now?

 

 

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You said you had contested the Mahnbescheid, but did you do the following?

 

If you do not fill in the reply slip that came with that Mahnbescheid and say that you do not agree within 2 weeks of the date you got the Mahnbescheid, you will lose automatically and the court will issue an order with which the lawyer can have the court bailiff garnish your bank account for that money.

 

If you send the slip within those 2 weeks and object, there will be a court hearing in which you can explain your side of things.

If you then lose in court, it will cost you more, since you will also have to bear the cost of that court hearing.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know all about crooked attorneys, trust me on that one. A brief experience of mine: I tried to renew my residence permit once, and not only was it denied, but it was stated that the immigration office intended to give me an official order to leave the country (complicated issue about my previous marriage). I had four weeks to respond to the letter, and should that deadline pass, the immigration office would assume their findings as justified, and I would lose all rights to appeal any decision. Tick tick tick tick tick tick...

 

I rushed my case to an attorney and gave him power of attorney over my case. He seemed to be more interested in settling my divorce proceeding that were coming up, claiming all of this "If you represent yourself and go head to head with her lawyer in court, you may end up having to pay your wife thousands and thousands of euros!" (No children together, my income at €1,000 a month at a warehouse, and about €1500 to my name? What thousands?!?) I was adamant that the divorce proceedings itself wasn't complicated, I could do it myself, just contact the damn immigration office like I asked you to and settle the misunderstanding!

 

After 3 weeks had passed, I contacted him to discover he still hadn't contacted the immigration office. He gave me some Broadway act about how I could trust him and I had absolutely nothing to worry about, and I mailed him a kündigungsschreibung. I then rushed my case to another attorney who not only took up my case, but did all the paperwork and immediately contacted the immigration office while I was still there in her chambers on our very first meeting.

 

I later discovered the other clown had WITHOUT MY PERMISSION contacted the family court and appointed himself as my attorney in my divorce case! I ended up having to write the Rechtsanwaltskammer an official complaint, and he (being that greasy lawman he was) was able to wriggle out of it by giving some flowery explanation about how him resolving my divorce case would resolve the complaint with the immigration office (which in essence wasn't true because I successfully represented myself in the 10 minutes divorce hearing and walked out not owing my wife a cent, not that she was even asking for any...)

 

In the end, not only did I have to pay the court €450 extra to my divorce costs because they paid him to represent me, but he had the nerve to take me to court for the €800 I "owed" him for the immigration case in which he did nothing for. The judge offered the option to settle for half the amount before she would make a final ruling on which party was right. Being that I didn't want to risk his flowery legal speech winning over my less than stellar German, I agreed and ended up paying this fool €850 total for literally nothing whatsoever.

 

I am not saying this to scare or discourage you, I'm just giving you the reality of dealing with greedy lawyers. What it will come down to is the fact that you signed the vollmacht for your attorney to represent you...and if she takes you to court, she will be prepared to explain down to the letter (true or not) why all of her charges are justified, why she needed to do what she did in your case, and will spin you out to be the devil for firing her. My suggestion is that unless you are 100% sure that you can win in court against her, try to get her to settle for percentage of what she is demanding. Trust me, these people LIVE in the courtrooms, they'll have no problems suing you even for chicken change.

 

Good luck!

 

 

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Razorsandroses, I empathize. This lawyer is trying to do the same to me. Not only did she not offer an alternative to her house/Unterhalt deal, she emailed me the day after the house sale (she was already fired) telling me (again) that the buyer has the right to send a GerichtsvAollzieher to chuck me out of the house, whence I would be left Standing on the street with nothing. I laughed at her (she had said this once before), and answered that I would be out on the street with half the sale amount of the house.

´The Rechtsanwaltskammer. I believe this is what I've been looking for. Thank you all for your help.

 

 

 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My situation is similar to the OP's, though our initial contact was by email.  My SO and I have had problems with our general contractor.  About a month or so ago, we emailed several law firms with a brief description of our situation and the explicit question about how the costs for legal help would be calculated as well as a request for an estimate of the costs.

 

One attorney called within a couple of hours of receiving the email.  He did not mention that there would be any charge/cost for the phone call.  I did not agree to engage him or his law firm. I told him that I would discuss everything with my SO.  At the end of our conversation, he said he would email me documents, such as a contract, remuneration agreement, power of attorney, etc.  He did this within a couple of days.  I did not respond to the email.

 

About a week and a half ago we received a bill from him for an initial phone consultation ('telefonische Erstberatung').  for over 200€.  He had not mentioned when he called that this was an 'Erstberatung' or that there would be any costs for his phone call to us.  

 

We have legal insurance (it doesn't cover our initial problem with the general contractor) and they approved a consultation with another attorney to discuss the problem of the bill with the first attorney.  However, the legal insurance might not cover anything (such as a written response) beyond the first consultation.  Whether additional costs will be covered will only be determined after the second attorney contacts the insurance company and provides some information.  And the attorney whom they recommended is on holiday.  

 

We can contact other attorneys, but we would like to respond to the first attorney as soon as possible.  We are hoping that it might be sufficient if we just write a letter ourselves stating that we reject the bill since we did not agree to engage this firm. 

 

Are there any laws to which we can refer for rejecting this bill?  

 

Would us writing a letter at least buy us some time to organise another attorney?

 

Does it make sense to contact the Rechtanwaltskammer to complain?  Or is there another organisation to which we can turn for help?

 

Thanks in advance for any advice!

 

 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, elmix said:

I did not respond to the email.

If you did respond to the email, maybe your bill would have been only 20 euros. 

 

You go to a doctor, describe your symptoms, they say "it is ok, just drink tee and have a rest". The doctor "did nothing", but the health insurance will pay for this anyway. There used to be a 10 euro charge for any doctor visit, for any reason, or lack of it. 

 

Don't try to sue a lawyer, just don't. 

 

If you want a cheap initial answer to your question, use https://www.frag-einen-anwalt.de/

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We did not have any appointment with the lawyer.  We also did not agree to any consultation.  

 

He did not inform us of any fees, though I had explicitly asked about these in my email (first contact).  Nor did he inform us that his phone call (he called me) was an 'Erstberatung'.

 

I had also contacted other law firms in the same manner and none have sent us a bill (at least not yet -- fingers crossed).  I was very explicit with each firm that we were inquiring first what kind of costs we might incur in our situation if we decided to pursue legal counsel.

 

We are not interested in suing a lawyer, but we do not think his bill is justified and would like to write him a response and refuse to pay it. 

 

It looks like we will write our own response -- at least initially -- since we can't get sorted with another lawyer through our legal insurance so quickly.

 

Are there any laws to which we can refer in our letter for rejecting this bill?  

 

Are there any organisations to which we can report his behaviour?  

 

Thanks again.

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He is charging you for the work entailed in preparing the documents. Check his website about this. We also had this happen once, and there was a charge mentioned in the site. Paid up - accepted we did not check and too costly to sue. Lesson learned!!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, elmix said:

We did not have any appointment with the lawyer.  We also did not agree to any consultation.  

 

He did not inform us of any fees, though I had explicitly asked about these in my email (first contact).  Nor did he inform us that his phone call (he called me) was an 'Erstberatung'.

 

I had also contacted other law firms in the same manner and none have sent us a bill (at least not yet -- fingers crossed).  I was very explicit with each firm that we were inquiring first what kind of costs we might incur in our situation if we decided to pursue legal counsel.

 

We are not interested in suing a lawyer, but we do not think his bill is justified and would like to write him a response and refuse to pay it. 

 

It looks like we will write our own response -- at least initially -- since we can't get sorted with another lawyer through our legal insurance so quickly.

 

Are there any laws to which we can refer in our letter for rejecting this bill?  

 

Are there any organisations to which we can report his behaviour?  

 

Thanks again.

 

 

I like yourkeau's idea. Cheap and non-binding.

Basically, stuff like this makes my blood boil. What a bastard. If you didn't respond to his email, you don't have a contract with him.

 

I hope he gets struck off the list of registered lawyers. 

 

 

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lawyers are mentioned!

 

By the way, transparency should rule in the relationship between a client and a professional advisor. Simples. That is my position. Call me naive. I prefer transparency. How should a foreigner know about court cases in Germany? Which may be naive but karma, babes.

 

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for all of the helpful comments!

 

Since the devil is nearly always in the details, I just would like to emphasize that my first contact (email) with the law firm was addressed not to any attorney, but generically to 'Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren' -- with a brief description of the problem and the direct question about the costs for legal support.  I assumed (maybe falsely) that the email would most likely be read and answered by a secretary or assistant.

 

However, within a few hours, an attorney called me;  I did not call him.  He did not mention that the call was an 'Erstberatung' or that there would be any costs.

 

@ yourkeau:  Maybe we will try the https://www.frag-einen-anwalt.de/ site.

 

@ RedMidge:  I checked the firm's website again and did not find any information about any fees.  Since I explicitly asked about fees/costs in my email (initial contact), I would expect -- perhaps naively-- that anyone from the firm responding would tell us upfront about any fees.

 

@ jeba:  Isn't the Rechtsanwaltskammer mainly for protecting the interests of the lawyers?  This firm is in Augsburg.  According to my internet search, it seems that the Rechtsanwaltskammer in Munich is also the appropriate one for Augsburg?

 

@ PandaMunich:  Thanks for that link.  Yikes -- most of the posts so hostilely attacked the OP and vehemently defended the lawyer that it made me think most of the posters were lawyers themselves.  I think a key difference between that OP's and our situation is that the lawyer called me.  

 

@ john g.:  Your words are a balm! I wouldn't call you naive;  you are honest and fair.  The uploader has made the video you posted unavailable to viewers in Germany (probably in France, too! :D), but I think I found another posting of it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e9xM1zei3A

 

We've had to deal with so many unscrupulous characters in our search to buy a home and now in the building process that it is refreshing to know that there are still people with integrity.  Yes, karma!

 

Thanks again for all the replies!

 

 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sharp practice. They'll try and if you stump up they win. All power to the OP's elbow.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now