Fees charged by lawyers in Cyprus constitute Price Fixing According to Counsel advice – do you think you have been overcharged by a lawyer?
By George Lambis
The Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) operates rules known as the Minimum Legal Fees (Out of Court Cases) Regulations (the Minimum Fee Regulations) which enable lawyers to charge fixed fees for the administration of estates, drafting Wills, commercial and property transactions and other types of out-of-Court work. The Minimum Fee Regulations set out formulae for calculating lawyers’ fees irrespective of the time spent or the complexity of the matter. This is believed to be unique within the EU.
Counsel in London specialising in European competition law has advised that the Minimum Fee Regulations are in clear breach of the price fixing and cartel provisions of Article 101 of the European Treaty and are therefore unlawful in European law. As a result:
Fees which are calculated under the Minimum Fee Regulations would be null and void;
The Cyprus Bar Association risks being fined 10% of its annual income by the European Commission for price fixing. Individual lawyers and legal practices could be similarly fined;
Members of the public could bring actions for recovery of overpaid fees against lawyers who have overcharged them.
Counsel is extremely confident in this analysis. Counsel is Mr Robert O’Donoghue of Brick Court Chambers. Robert has an extensive reputation in EU competition law. His background can be found on http://www.brickcourt.co.uk/people/profile/robert-odonoghue
An action group is now being launched by a company incorporated in the UK under the name Fairness in Fees Limited. The next step in the process of challenging the Minimum Fees Regulations is to submit a formal “Complaint” to the Directorate-General for the Competition department of the Commission supported by legal argument. The Commission’s decision will take a few months.
A favourable decision by the Commission will mean that those lawyers’ fees which have been calculated under the Minimum Fee Regulations will be found to be void in law and refundable to clients, both Cypriots and ex-patriots alike. There is no statute of limitations in Cyprus so claims can be made without a time limit restricting such claims.
If you are seriously interested in participating please email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible confirming your interest and requesting further information.