Professional rules / Fees

The cornerstone of a fruitful collaboration between a lawyer and his client is a trust-based relationship. At WOUTERS SOSSON PFEIFF & PARTNERS, we take care to inform our clients about the way we function.

 

In order for the lawyer to be able to fulfil his mission in a constructive and efficient manner, it is essential for him and his client to be on a same wavelength regarding 1) the position to adopt and the way to achieve it, and 2) the mutual expectations of one another


  1. The first aspect implies, on the one hand, that the lawyer will not defend the client’s interests if, in conscience, he believes his demands to be totally unreasonable, humanely unacceptable or obviously illegitimate. Likewise, if some profound and lasting differences of opinion were to arise during the process, the lawyer or the client are free to put an end to their collaboration.

    On the other hand, so as to guarantee the harmony between the actual position of the client and the one being sent back by the lawyer, the client will be consulted before each important step is taken. With this in mind, various projects of letters or mails, proceeding acts, submissions, etc. will be submitted to the client to make sure of his consent.

  2. As far as the second aspect is concerned, i.e. the mutual expectations, the client has the right to expect from his lawyer sufficient receptiveness and attention as well as to see his questions answered in a complete and precise way within reasonable time limits, and of course a complete respect of the professional secrecy. For his part, the lawyer expects of his client that he collaborates efficiently and transparently in the management of his case, by providing in a timely manner all the information and documents needed to assure his defence.

 

Furthermore, when the clients consult one of the two founder-partners, either Mr. Wouters or Mrs. Sosson, it is guaranteed that these will shoulder the responsibility and the strategic management of the case. Nevertheless, for the sake of efficiency and availability, collaboration will consist in team work, and Mrs. Sosson or Mr. Wouters will appoint a member of the firm, whether associate or a junior partner, to handle the case with them. Except cases of absolute necessity, this associate or partner will remain the same until the end of the case.

This time-honoured principle allows an optimal management of the case on a daily basis, as the client is constantly sure to deal with a lawyer who knows his situation thoroughly and by whom he can be informed, while the internal circulation of the exchanged information is assured. Besides, the client is thus supported by two professionals, whose efforts combine to offer the best possible service. Of course, each service provided in this framework is billed only once to the client.

 

Finally, in order to work clearly and in accordance with the obligations imposed by our professional association, the highest degree of transparency is the rule as far as the remuneration of the lawyer’s services is concerned.

One has to differentiate between the fees, the costs/expenses and the retainers.

 

Fees

The fees cover the various tasks completed by the lawyer, i.e. the work done in the management of the file, e.g. consultations, analysis of facts and documents, phone calls, exchange of correspondence, negotiation meetings, expertise meetings, researches in legal literature and case-law, drawing up hearing notes, requests, summons, submissions, other procedural acts or conventions, attendance at the hearings (including travel and waiting time), pleadings, various procedural steps at the Court House,…

The fees for the involvement of the lawyer are set during the first appointment. Our firm applies the hour rate system, which is the most suited to family disputes, as it is often impossible to foresee how many tasks will have to be accomplished. This hour rate may exceptionally be raised in case of emergency procedures.

The agreed hour rate applies to every services provided by a lawyer within the firm.

A success fee may also be retained at the closure of the file, depending on the nature of the case and the results obtained in comparison with the stakes.

The services provided are recorded on a daily basis in detail so that the client receives a precise statement of what has been done for them. This statement is sent with every state of costs and fees, or when the client specifically asks for it.

In order for the legal fees to be as foreseeable as possible, the lawyer will favour – as much as is possible and in view of the interests at stake – the least expensive procedural means. Besides, it is the responsibility of the client to provide the lawyer with notes, documents, as well as clear, complete and precise comments, in order to limit the time spent on the file.

Costs

Costs are billed in addition to the fees. They cover two sorts of expenses.

On the one hand, they cover the operating expenses of the firm, such as  the opening and closing of the files, word-processing, sending mail, telephone calls, photocopying, travel costs, etc. This is precisely detailed in a letter sent to the client after the first appointment, explaining the financial modalities of the lawyer’s intervention.

On the other hand, they cover procedural expenses and other possible outlays, which will be billed to the client (receipts will be provided). The outlays incurred in the framework of a case may be the following: court fees, bailiff fees, administrative costs for civil status documents or other, sworn translator fees,… and fees paid to a lawyer from outside the firm for a service provided in front of a jurisdiction out of the Brussels-Capital Region, when travel expenses would seem unrequired or too expensive, etc.

Retainers

The client will receive requests for a retainer on the final state of costs and fees. Retainers are not necessarily representative of the state of progress of the tasks completed nor of the amount of fees and costs incurred at the moment they are being requested.

If a retainer is requested, it must be paid in full in order for our firm to continue representing the client.

Further more, intermediate states of costs and fees shall be drawn up and sent at regular intervals, allowing the client to follow the progress of the case and the financial burden it represents. An advance may be requested, in addition to the payment of each intermediate state.