Lawyer remuneration for forwarding a scanned copy of a letter by e-mail

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Good morning!

 

My lawyer has forwarded to me a letter from the opposing legal firm and has sent me an invoice for his services together with that. However, we had not been in contact for more than four years until this moment. He explained that any matter arising after two years from the completion of a mandate is considered a new matter according to § 52 RVG. This 'new matter', however, simply consisted in forwarding a letter by e-mail! Is this a sufficient reason for him to be requesting a remuneration fee of almost 150 € including tax? With a Gegenstandswert of 1000€, the Geschäftsgebühr (§§ 13, 14 RVG) was calculated at 104€. To this, 20 € were added as a Pauschale fur Post und Telekommunikation.

 

Can he demand remuneration in this case? And is the amount he asks me to pay justified? Should I pay this or should I challenge this invoice?

 

I am grateful for any suggestions you may have for me.

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I don't know the answer to your question, but if the lawyer says that this is a new case, it also means that your mandate to represent you for the case must have also expired? I did not read § 52 RVG but this seems to apply for a lawyer appointed by the state?

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Thanks for your comment. As a matter of fact, I could not find any reference to any 2 year period in § 52 RVG, which the lawyer was mentioning.

 

I don't know when a mandate expires. He was paid for the work he did at the time more than 4 years ago. Does a mandate expire automatically after a number of years if there are no matters arising? I never cancelled it myself.

 

Even if receiving this letter from the opponent renews the mandate,  it seems unjustified to be charging such a high amount for having done nothing but forwarding the letter.

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1 hour ago, cfq said:

I don't know when a mandate expires.

I think that nobody can answer that without seeing the "letter of authorization" ("Vollmacht" in German) you signed when you began working with that lawyer.

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54 minutes ago, franklan said:

I think that nobody can answer that without seeing the "letter of authorization" ("Vollmacht" in German) you signed when you began working with that lawyer.

 

I cannot find any explicit duration for the mandate in the Vollmacht, but a lawyer on another website references a decision of the BGH (Urt. v. 20. Juni 1996 - IX ZR 106/95) with regards to the duration of a mandate, saying that it ends with the performance of the lawyer's task, that is, when he no longer expects any further action in fulfilment of the contract. So assuming our mandate was already concluded:

 

1. is receiving a letter from the opponent sufficient to renew it?

2. is it justified to calculate the fee for their service of forwarding such a letter, similarly to how fees are calculated for legal counselling or representation, based on the Gegenstandwert? This is what seems ridiculous to me. If I am asked to pay for something, at most it should be the administrative costs of scanning and sending the e-mail.

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Thanks for your comment. I already complained. Will see what they answer and take it from there.

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I don't know if 150 EUR is a fair price for that, but the "I was charged XXX just for doing YYY" complains always make me smile.    People do not charge only for the time they invest doing their job, they charge for their knowledge as well.

 

My mechanic charged me XXX for turning one screw.  Well, he is charging you for knowing and/or finding out which screw needed to be turned.

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3 hours ago, Krieg said:

People do not charge only for the time they invest doing their job, they charge for their knowledge as well.

While you are right about this, this does not apply to the OPs case in my opinion.

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On Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2018, cfq said:

 

My lawyer has forwarded to me a letter from the opposing legal firm and has sent me an invoice for his services together with that. However, we had not been in contact for more than four years until this moment. He explained that any matter arising after two years from the completion of a mandate is considered a new matter according to § 52 RVG.

 

I don't know whether you and your lawyer are communicating in German or English or whether he routinely mixes lay terms and legalese when writing to you but it may well be that his explanation, which does appear to lack clarity, is no more than a 'best attempt to simplify' a complex matter for a non-German-speaking lay client. 

 

The only temporal reference in Section 52 RVG is, in and of itself, a very elastic one which, depending on the specific particular circumstances of an individual case, may or may not equate to two years.

 

Quote

Section 52
Claim against the defendant or the party concerned

...

(5) The point in time relevant for the beginning of the period of limitation shall be the time when the court decision concluding the proceedings entered into force or, if there is no such decision, upon termination of the proceedings. An application by the defence attorney suspends the course of the period of limitation. Such suspension shall end six months after the court’s decision on the application has entered into force.

 

 

Quote

This 'new matter', however, simply consisted in forwarding a letter by e-mail! Is this a sufficient reason for him to be requesting a remuneration fee of almost 150 € including tax? With a Gegenstandswert of 1000€, the Geschäftsgebühr (§§ 13, 14 RVG) was calculated at 104€. To this, 20 € were added as a Pauschale fur Post und Telekommunikation.

 

Whether this is to be considered a 'new matter' may also be defined by application of certain subsections of Section 15 RVG where you will find references to two year limitations.

 

Quote

Section 15
Scope of indemnification of fees

(1) The fees shall indemnify all the work of the attorney from the award of the mandate to settlement of the matter unless otherwise determined in this Law.

(2) The attorney may only demand the fees once concerning the same matter.

(3) If different fee rates are to be applied to parts of the subject matter, separately calculated fees shall be incurred for those parts, but the fee shall not exceed the total sum of the partial values calculated on the basis of the highest fee rate.

(4) Fees that have already been incurred shall not be affected if the matter is settled before schedule or the mandate ends before the matter has been settled unless otherwise determined in this Law.

(5) If the attorney is instructed to continue to work on a matter on which he has worked previously, he shall not receive more fees than he would receive if he had been instructed with this task from the outset. If the earlier mandate has been completed for more than two calendar years, the further activity shall be deemed to be a new matter and the setting off of fees determined in this Law shall not be applicable.

(My bolds.)

 

It may also be that, if the terms of your original mandate referenced both Sections 13 and 14, you have given your prior authorization to him to charge either or both ad valorum (value based) and sliding scale fees.

 

Without knowing the 4-figure code number/s appearing next to the line items billed (which can be searched for in the Annexes of the RVG) we can only guess under which scale of factors any fees charged were based. The figures certainly look feasible and, if their billing were justifiable under the terms of your mandate, would not appear to be disputable.

 

Quote

Can he demand remuneration in this case? And is the amount he asks me to pay justified? Should I pay this or should I challenge this invoice?

 

He has so therefore you already know he believes that he can.

The amount appears to be legally justifiable.

That depends on how much you want to throw into the wind on a long-shot gamble against a highly skilled expert operating in a key area (legal billing) of his profession.

 

On Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2018, generalmartok said:

 I did not read § 52 RVG but this seems to apply for a lawyer appointed by the state?

 

Only the first subsection of § 52 RVG specifically applies to court appointed lawyers. Other subsections apply to other constellations - some only to civil and others to criminal matters and we do not know which field of law the OPs matter stems from so, IMHO, it's pointless to exclude or include application by speculative derivation.

 

On Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2018, cfq said:

I cannot find any explicit duration for the mandate in the Vollmacht, but a lawyer on another website references a decision of the BGH (Urt. v. 20. Juni 1996 - IX ZR 106/95) with regards to the duration of a mandate, saying that it ends with the performance of the lawyer's task, that is, when he no longer expects any further action in fulfilment of the contract. So assuming our mandate was already concluded:

 

1. is receiving a letter from the opponent sufficient to renew it?

2. is it justified to calculate the fee for their service of forwarding such a letter, similarly to how fees are calculated for legal counselling or representation, based on the Gegenstandwert? This is what seems ridiculous to me. If I am asked to pay for something, at most it should be the administrative costs of scanning and sending the e-mail.

 

Each case in law is an individual case open to being judged on its own merits so, whatever may have been determined by a court in a different case may or may not be applicable in a different case. As to the questions, I can only repeat what I already said above.

 

21 hours ago, DoubleDTown said:

I'd call his office and complain.  And offer something smaller, like 20 EUR. 

 

hahahaha - That should amuse the heck out of the lawyers telephonist/s (not!).

 

How many times a day do you think they like to get bawled out by their bosses for putting a call through from someone who was intent on wasting their billable minutes on insulting the intelligence of/or underestimating the professional skills and qualifications of their employer?

 

2B

 

ETA: Law on the Remuneration of Attorneys - Index (Gesetz über die Vergütung der Rechtsanwältinnen und Rechtsanwälte - RVG) <- English translation for reference

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