Lawyers fees, court costs and other charges associated with legal expenses don’t come cheap. The best way to get out of paying for legal fees is to get the other party to pay for your legal costs.
Although you cannot make this type of claim as part of a lawsuit or other legal case, there are ways in which you can get around this. One way is to settle a lawsuit or dispute out of court where an agreement can be reached that legal fees are at the expense of the defendant. A personal arrangement can also be made for payment of legal fees even if the case goes to court. This is referred to as fee shifting.
There are some regulatory statutes that allow for fee shifting without the need to settle out of court or come to a private arrangement. However, in every case, the lawsuit or dispute must be successful against the defendant in order to claim for legal fees. In other words, if you don’t win your case or reach a settlement agreement, legal fees will not be paid by the other party.
It will be necessary for your legal representative (lawyer or attorney) to draft a legal document regarding the terms and conditions of the agreement. The term relates to when and how the payments will be made. For example, a payment plan may be structured for amounts to paid directly to the lawyer or to you to recover costs that you have already incurred.
Conditions of the agreement may involve non-disclosure of the details of the case or the settlement agreement. They may also preclude future lawsuits from arising from you regarding the same complaint or suit.
If you find yourself on the wrong side of statutory fee-shifting, the other party must make you aware of the fact that you will be legally obligated to pay the legal fees. This type of fee-shifting mainly occurs in suits brought by homeowners associations, civil rights cases or class actions where the burden of the legal fees is considered to be detrimental or to great to be carried and is therefore shifted to the defendant.
The American Rule that each party is responsible for their own legal fees differs from most countries around the world where the losing party is generally responsible for paying the legal fees of the winning party.