Can I recover my attorney’s fees for litigating the reasonable amount of attorney’s fees I should be entitled to for prevailing in my lawsuit? This concept is known as “fees on fees.” It depends.
Generally, [i]t is settled that in litigating over attorney’[s] fees, a litigant may claim fees where entitlement is the issue, but may not claim attorney’s fees incurred in litigating the amount of attorney’s fees. Nonetheless, certain contractual provisions are sufficiently broad to warrant an exception.
The Burton Family Partnership v. Luani Plaza, Inc., 44 Fla. L. Weekly D1720c (Fla. 3d DCA 2019) (internal quotations and citations omitted) (finding bylaws created entitlement to attorney’s fees allowed to prevailing party to recover fees incurred for litigating the amount of attorney’s fees).
Entitlement to attorney’s fees is a creature of contract or statute.
Statutory bases for entitlement to attorney’s fees are not really going to allow you to recover “fees on fees.”
Contractual provisions may IF there is language in the contract that would allow such recovery. Typically, there will be a provision that expresses that a prevailing party can recover attorney’s fees including attorney’s fees incurred in litigating the reasonable amount of attorney’s fees.
While there are times I include or agree to such language, I am generally wary of this language because it disincentivizes a party from agreeing to settle the reasonable amount of attorney’s fees in advance of an evidentiary hearing to determine the reasonable amount because they know they will get “fees on fees.” For example, what if the other side prevailed and they incurred $150,000 in attorney’s fees. You want to settle the issue for $120,000. The other side may likely be disincentived from settling this amount because not only do they know a court may award them more than the $120,000 in reasonable attorney’s fees, but now they get reasonable fees for litigating the amount that should be deemed reasonable. Thus, you may be better off agreeing to the $150,000 because you would have to incur attorney’s fees too in litigating the amount of fees. Something to consider when agreeing to or dealing with this provision.
Please contact David Adelstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.