Proportionality of Legal Aid Costs: The SС named the criteria

The party applied to the Supreme Court for reimbursement of legal aid costs in the Court of Cassation. To confirm the costs in the specified calculation of UAH 26,500, the party provided a copy of the agreement on the provision of legal (legal) assistance, with subsequent changes.

 

In accordance with the additional agreement to this agreement, the parties have determined the following time for working and / or providing legal assistance:

  • acquaintance with the materials of the case on the cassation appeal of the plaintiff and taking photocopies of them - 1 hour;
  • acquaintance with the content of the application for elimination of shortcomings of the cassation appeal submitted by the cassator to the Supreme Court - 2 hours;
  • conducting a legal analysis of the conclusions cited by the cassator in the cassation appeal, set out in the Supreme Court decisions on the compliance of the conclusion on the application of the rule of law in such legal
  • relations, to which the cassator refers as a ground for incorrect application of substantive law by the appellate court;
  • construction by the lawyer of a position of protection of interests of the client - 3 hours;
  • working out and sending to the participants of the case, as well as to the Supreme Court a response to the cassation appeal - 5 hours;
  • representation of the client's interests in court (direct participation of a lawyer in a court hearing to execute the client's order) - 1 hour.


The parties agreed on the cost of these services in the amount of UAH 1,500 per hour (for participation in the court hearing - UAH 2,500 per hour).

To confirm the scope of services provided, work performed and their cost, the party provided:

1) a copy of the report (calculation) of services on professional legal assistance related to the consideration of the case in cassation;

2) a copy of the act of work performed (legal assistance).

 

POSITION OF THE SUPREME COURT

The Supreme Court reminded that according to the second and third paragraphs of Article 129 of the Code of Civil Procedure of Ukraine, the amount of court costs that a party has paid or must pay in connection with the case is established by the court on the basis of evidence (contracts, invoices, etc.).

However, the amount of costs for the services of a lawyer should be commensurate with:

1) the complexity of the case and the work performed by the lawyer (services provided);

2) the time spent by the lawyer to perform the relevant work (provision of services);

3) the volume of services provided by the lawyer and work performed;

4) the price of the claim and (or) the significance of the case for the party, including the impact of the decision of the case on the reputation of the party or the public interest in the case.

In this case, the Supreme Court concluded that the claimed amount of costs for legal assistance of a lawyer in the Court of Cassation (which is reimbursed by the plaintiff) is inflated and disproportionate to the amount of services provided by a lawyer. According to the Supreme Court, the amount of such expenses should be reduced and reimbursed in the amount of UAH 3,000.

The Supreme Court justified its decision by the fact that:

✅ In case of non-compliance with the requirements of Part 4 of Art. 126 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the court may, at the request of the other party, reduce the cost of professional legal assistance of a lawyer, which are subject to distribution between the parties.

✅ The burden of proving the disproportionate costs lies with the party requesting a reduction in the legal fees to be shared between the parties.

✅ The plaintiff proved the unreasonableness and disproportion of the claimed amount of costs for professional legal assistance of the defendant with the actual amount of such assistance in the court of cassation, the time spent on such services (insignificant legal and technical work to prepare the case for consideration in the Commercial Court of Cassation and duration of court hearings), the criterion of the reality of such costs.

Thus, substantiating the request to reduce the cost of professional legal assistance, the plaintiff noted that the list of services provided by a lawyer is not true and contradicts the case file (according to the plaintiff, the response filed by the defendant to the cassation appeal does not contain a thorough analysis of substantive and procedural law , substantially (textually and in substance) reproduces the arguments set out by the applicant in the appeal and its preparation did not require a significant amount of technical work.In addition, given the short duration of the court costs of professional legal assistance for participation in court hearings in the court of cassation comply with the principle of proportionality in relation to the time spent on these court hearings).

The full text of the relevant resolution of the Supreme Court in the case № 915/1654/19 of 21.07.2020 can be found at a link. 

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