In our law firm you will get a good service for a fair price. According to our philosophy, transparency concerning our fees is necessary for a trustful teamwork between lawyer and client. Therefore, we will talk about all costs before the first assignment.
Germany has a single profession of “lawyer” (Rechtsanwalt) and does not distinguish between lawyers, solicitors, barristers or advocates.
In Germany, lawyers’ fees are charged either in accordance with the Lawyers’ Remuneration Act (Rechtsanwaltsvergütungsgesetz, RVG) or on the basis of fee agreements, in general on an hourly rate. We usually charge on a basis of 180 € net per hour, calculating with 1 min. time intervals.
In principle, fee agreements are always possible as an alternative to the statutory charges. However, according to the provisions of the Federal Lawyers’ Code (Bundesrechtsanwaltsordnung, BRAO) and of the RVG, if the lawyer represents the client in court, the agreed fees cannot be less than those laid down by law. Remuneration higher than that prescribed by law may be agreed at any time.
The remuneration schedule attached to the RVG (Annex 1 to the RVG) prescribes either fixed fees or ranges of fees applicable to individual activities. The fee level is normally determined by reference to the value of the claim. The ranges of fees based on claim value stipulate the maximum and minimum fee rate payable. The actual fee levels based on claim value are set out in the fees table (Annex 2 to the RVG).
In each case, the appropriate fee from the prescribed range must be determined ex aequo et bono, taking into account all the circumstances, in particular the scope and difficulty of the work involved, the importance of the case and the client’s income and financial circumstances. If the lawyer incurs a particular risk of liability, this may also be taken into consideration in the assessment of his or her fees. Fee ranges with statutory maximum and minimum amounts apply in a number of special fields, notably criminal cases and matters of social law.
The value of the proceedings is determined as follows: The value is easily calculable, if there is a specific amount involved in the litigation, for example 20,000 € as a compensation for damages. In public law, there is an average peak at 5,000 €, for example for a visa or for a licence in the catering sector. For marital matters for example, the value of the proceedings is determined at the court's discretion on the basis of the specific circumstances of each individual case, in particular the scale and importance of the matter, and the relative income and wealth of the spouses. Income is calculated on the basis of three times the net income of both spouses. Usually, the court fixes the value of the proceedings at three times the net income. For matters concerning family conflict, the value usually depends on the value of the claim. For alimony matters, the value is based on the future maintenance payments claimed, at most the amount for one year. Arrears incurred up until the application was filed are included in the calculation. For matters relating to children, including parental custody and access, the fee rate is 3,000 €.
If no agreement is reached, the fees for court representation by a lawyer are calculated on the basis of the value of the claim. The value of the claim usually corresponds to the value of the proceedings which is set in order to determine the court fees. The RVG sets out precisely which fees can be calculated at which rate for which type of procedure. Annex 2 to the RVG sets out the fees by claim value. For the first instance of civil matters for example, lawyers usually receive a court fee of 1.3 times the rate and a consultation fee of 1.2 times the rate. For a settlement agreement at first instance, lawyers also receive a settlement fee at a rate of 1.0.
Unless otherwise agreed, the lawyer’s remuneration is in principle payable on completion of his or her brief. However, lawyers do have a statutory right to an advance.
Lawyers are obliged to give clients full information and advice, and must propose to their clients the safest and least hazardous means of achieving the desired objective. Lawyers must also point out any risks involved in the matter, so that clients are in a position to make an informed decision. The extent of the information to be provided depends on the lawyers’ perception of what the client needs to know. Lawyers must answer their clients’ questions fully and truthfully. Before a case proceeds to court, lawyers must make clear the prospects and risks involved in pursuing litigation. This includes the cost risks as well as the prospects for success. The parties bear the costs of the proceedings in proportion to their prevailing or losing. The losing party must pay the other party’s costs insofar as they were necessary for the proper prosecution of the litigation; that is to say, the lawyer’s statutory fees and expenses and the other party’s travel costs, including any loss of earnings incurred through attendance at court.
Lawyers must charge VAT at 19%. It is charged separately as an expense and is not included in their fees.
The latest version of RVG is accessible from the official website of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
There is also a calculator online in German: Prozesskostenrechner des Anwaltsvereins.
Legal aid (Beratungshilfe / Prozesskostenhilfe / Verfahrenskostenhilfe) is available upon application to anyone who, owing to their personal and financial circumstances, cannot cover the costs of the proceedings or can cover them only partially or in instalments. The intended legal action or defence must afford a reasonable chance of success and must not appear frivolous. However, litigants must use their own resources insofar as this is reasonable. Depending on their income, a party can be awarded legal aid that is not to be paid back or to be paid back in instalments.
For legal aid for cases out of court (Beratungshilfe) it is necessary to go to the local disctrict court (Amtsgericht) where a voucher is granted for the first appointment with the lawyer. For the legal aid for law suits in court the lawyer himself has to send the application to Court.
The following documents are necessary for both forms of legal aid to prove the economic situation:
- pay statement of income of the latest three months or an official notice from the JobCenter
- the rental agreement on the appartment
- bank account statements of the last three months