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Old 07.03.2019, 19:03
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options for challenging a lawyer bill

What are my options for challenging a lawyer's bill? I asked a lawyer to do a very small follow-up job on an earlier larger job. I said that I wanted to keep the work done to about one hour, but I understood that it might run a bit over. He agreed that. He just charged me for three hours for a very trivial task.

I don't fight over details but this is just ridiculous. Is there any arbitrating body that would deal with a dispute on a lawyer's bill, or do I have any good options to challenge it?
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Old 07.03.2019, 19:08
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

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What are my options for challenging a lawyer's bill? I asked a lawyer to do a very small follow-up job on an earlier larger job. I said that I wanted to keep the work done to about one hour, but I understood that it might run a bit over. He agreed that. He just charged me for three hours for a very trivial task.

I don't fight over details but this is just ridiculous. Is there any arbitrating body that would deal with a dispute on a lawyer's bill, or do I have any good options to challenge it?
Can't help but at a guess it may have been "trivial" in your eyes, but paperwork can take time. And one to three is running over "a bit."
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Old 07.03.2019, 19:13
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

Maybe there was more than one person working on it which then inflates the hour?

Have you asked them about it? Maybe they can offer some kind of explanation?
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Old 07.03.2019, 19:17
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

Let's forget my judgement that the work is trivial and keep it to this - I said at the start that I wanted to keep the work to about one hour; the lawyer agreed; the lawyer at no stage said that the work was running over one hour.

The initial agreement was done in a friendly tone. I realise now that I should have said he should tell me time taken, minute-by-minute. But he agreed in everyday friendly language that he would keep the work to an hour, and I did not think to be more formal about my request.

> Maybe there was more than one person working on it which then inflates the hour?

One person, and he sent two emails to a third party, which had single sentence replies, and he kept me in contact about it on email. Nothing beyond my original email request plus these emails.
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Old 07.03.2019, 19:20
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

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He just charged me for three hours for a very trivial task.
Why did you not do it yourself, after all if you knew it was trivial you must have known how to do it yourself, right?
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Old 07.03.2019, 19:22
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

Switzerlanded? Legalesed? Do as Samdgrounder suggests and ask why.
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Old 07.03.2019, 19:28
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

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Switzerlanded? Legalesed? Do as Samdgrounder suggests and ask why.
Yes I have already done that and said that I don't agree with the bill and said why - because we agreed approximately one hour of work at the start and he did not notify me once he started to go way over - but I was also trying to educate myself about options if he says 'too bad'.

Last edited by peebix; 07.03.2019 at 19:48.
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Old 07.03.2019, 20:05
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

OP, your options of challenging a lawyers bill are severely limited.

You'll be, as standard, charged not only for time but also photocopying, contact with any third parties, time spent on phone with you etc., etc.

For your estimate of one hours work, I would just swallow the fact that somewhere along the line you've not agreed fully (in writing) the terms of the representation. No respectable lawyer would agree to accepting an assignment which would only take one hour - or have I misunderstood things?

Personally, I'd pay-up and forget it - you'll never win any dispute.
Or, as one lawyer once said to me few decades ago - "it's like driving your own car into a wall" - the only responsibility is with you.
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Old 07.03.2019, 20:19
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

Think yourself damn lucky OP..

I hired a fiducier to do my tax.. I had to do 4 previous years. I was told normally a standard return takes an hour but since it's previous 4 years it'll take "a bit more" Basically each year was copy/paste of the previous year.. No changes to circumstances.
They told me they'd send me email with all the stuff they needed.. Which they did, over and over and over.. This statement from 2013, that balance from 2014, this document from 2015.. Each time I gave them something, they asked for something else.. At no point did they say - by the way, this is all chargeable .. (I stupidly thought the clock started once they had everything)

Eventually 2 months later they submitted everything and I got a bill for 40 hours work

Each email, each reply they read, each time they filed something.. Another hour..


So if anybody knows how to challenge a fuducier...
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Old 07.03.2019, 20:21
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

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Think yourself damn lucky OP..

I hired a fiducier to do my tax.. I had to do 4 previous years. I was told normally a standard return takes an hour but since it's previous 4 years it'll take "a bit more" Basically each year was copy/paste of the previous year.. No changes to circumstances.
They told me they'd send me email with all the stuff they needed.. Which they did, over and over and over.. This statement from 2013, that balance from 2014, this document from 2015.. Each time I gave them something, they asked for something else.. At no point did they say - by the way, this is all chargeable .. (I stupidly thought the clock started once they had everything)

Eventually 2 months later they submitted everything and I got a bill for 40 hours work

Each email, each reply they read, each time they filed something.. Another hour..


So if anybody knows how to challenge a fuducier...
Which is why I started doing it myself, after I saw the first bill (that was luckily paid by my employer). And luckily if you make a mistake, they´ll correct it for you
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Old 07.03.2019, 20:24
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

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Which is why I started doing it myself, after I saw the first bill (that was luckily paid by my employer). And luckily if you make a mistake, they´ll correct it for you
Needless to say i didn't use that fiduciary this year, my expenditure this year was 200chf.
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Old 07.03.2019, 20:35
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

Thanks ZuriRollt and John_H - helpful info and I see that it is sunk cost.

And John_H, sympathies because that was certainly a chunk. It's the implicit assumptions that trip one up - I assumed the lawyer would stick to one hour's work or say something, you thought the clock did not start ticking till they had the material. It's hard to feel that one even was that careless, it's more a case of having to learn from the mistake.
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Old 07.03.2019, 22:50
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

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What are my options for challenging a lawyer's bill? I asked a lawyer to do a very small follow-up job on an earlier larger job. I said that I wanted to keep the work done to about one hour, but I understood that it might run a bit over. He agreed that. He just charged me for three hours for a very trivial task.

I don't fight over details but this is just ridiculous. Is there any arbitrating body that would deal with a dispute on a lawyer's bill, or do I have any good options to challenge it?
I had a similar experience years ago. I asked the lawyer to reduce the bill and she did.
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Old 08.03.2019, 08:44
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

When we were buying our apartment we agreed in person a fixed price. Didn't get anything written down, as I was a referral from someone the firm do a lot of business with and the referrer was in the room with me (in fact he even pushed the lawyer to agree the fixed price).

The first bill I got was over the fixed price, with the promise of more to come. I wrote an email that I thought there was a mistake. The reply said that her meeting notes said that it was a cost estimate not a fixed price, however I had been charged too high an hourly rate. At this point I asked my referrer if he would back me up, but being Swiss he wasn't interested in the confrontation.

So, I wrote back firmly stating the facts of our discussion, that I was happy with the high standard of the work carried out (not 100% true, as they missed a clause in the contract that the notary pointed out, that has the a very very low risk of costing us a lot of money), that the fixed price even involved them sending a letter which was unnecessary in the end and asked them to stick to our original agreement.

They backed down and I paid the original amount, plus VAT of course.

In the bigger scheme of buying a house, the CHF 1,000 or so we saved wasn't such a big deal, but when the bank are changing their mind about how much you equity you need to put in, every little helps and as much as anything it was the principle of not being ripped off by someone not sticking to their agreement.
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Old 08.03.2019, 08:58
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

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OP, your options of challenging a lawyers bill are severely limited.

You'll be, as standard, charged not only for time but also photocopying, contact with any third parties, time spent on phone with you etc., etc.
Time spent arguing over the bill...
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Old 08.03.2019, 09:13
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

I'm trying to imagine what this thread would be like if the lawyer had stopped after an hour.

Definitely a very confused counterparty would provide a fun Friday thread.
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Old 08.03.2019, 10:39
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Re: options for challenging a lawyer bill

I have been through similar scenarios multiple times with various professionals. At this point I believe it is a Swiss thing to view clients as an opportunity to overcharge.
I wont' go into details of my experiences but just say that you would be better served by paying the bill and forgetting abut it. Going to Swiss court (which I am sure that is where it will end up) is a waste of time and money.
IMO, being a country financially and politically isolated from the rest of the World for centuries formed Swiss attitudes towards anyone from the outside as a potential opportunity.

Next time when dealing with locals get everything in writing.
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