In Germany, the notion of a first legal assessment comprises a first consultation talk between lawyer and client. According to German Supreme Court jurisdiction, "the first legal assessment is an overall introductory talk of advice" (German Civil Supreme Court, Judgment of 3 May 2007, file no. I ZR 137/05). This talk could be about a short abstract legal question or a short first assessment of your individual case. The latter is supposed to enable you to decide whether you would like to take your case any further or not.
If the first assessment is sufficient for you
In case all of your questions were answered sufficiently and you do not require any further support, you will only have to pay to the lawyer the so-called first legal assessment fee without any other costs attached. However, this is not the case if the opposing party to the case needs to be contacted (by phone, email, or in writing) or if you have to provide your lawyer with further documentation in order for your questions to be solved. The same is valid for cases that are subject of a pending court action or are supposed to go to court shortly. It is not possible by law then to only pay the moderate first assessment fee. This means, the regular remuneration by law has to be applied.
If you require ongoing legal support
In many cases, it becomes obvious to the clients after having paid the first assessment fee that they need further counsel support in their individual case. This is acknowledged by the law, as the amount you have already paid will reduce the fees payable by turning to your lawyer once more. In other words, the first assessment fee has not been spent in vain if a legal conflict could not be solved at the first attempt. Please note, however, that this deduction will not kick in if you decide to employ a different lawyer than you did for the first assessment.
How much a first legal assessment is for you
The fee payable for a first legal assessment, depending on the time required for the individual case and its value, will range from EUR 59.50 (EUR 50.00 plus 19% VAT) and EUR 226.10 (EUR 190.00 plus 19% VAT). If there have been any expenses on telecommunication, this will add to the original amount by another EUR 23.80 (EUR 20.00 plus 19% VAT).
The exact amount for your individual first assessment mainly depends on the amount in dispute (in German: Streitwert), meaning the financial value of your claim. This may be easily answered if your issue is about a demand for payment of 1.000 euros. There are, however, a range of cases which are not about payments but non-material claims that are difficult to translate into money terms. Such could be cases on criminal defence or on questions of surrender of property that is apparently worthless but highly memorable, for example gran's 80-year-old fashion jewellery. Law and courts have often pronounced specific values for these cases in order for legal counsels to get a rough idea of how to calculate their fees. This is my orientation point for your first assessment also. I will, of course, be happy to let you know about your individual case fees.
First legal assessments for consumers and entrepreneurs - Know the differences
For consumers, German law provides an integrated capping in case of considerable values of dispute, meaning that, as a private person, you will never have to pay more than EUR 226.10 (EUR 190.00 plus 19% VAT) for a first legal assessment with any lawyer.
If you aim to get a first legal assessment as a businessman or businesswoman, there is, however, no upper limit to the fees payable. In effect, this means that your first assessment bill may well get ahead of EUR 226.10 (EUR 190.00 plus 19% VAT) depending on the value of your case.
If you are entitled to a Funding Certificate
I am happy to find out whether you may claim a Funding Certificate from the German State. In this case, your first legal assessment is free in my practice.