The German Lawyers' Fees Act (in German: Rechtsanwaltsvergütungsgesetz; short: RVG) codifies the so-called remuneration by law for legal counsels based in Germany. It specifies, generally speaking, minimum and maximum fees, and monetary points of reference for services provided by lawyers. This comprises out-of-court consultation and support as well as in-court representation.
Civil Law Fees
In German civil law and administrative law, a lawyer's fees are calculated according to the value attached to the dispute (called Streitwert or Gegenstandswert in German). For instance, if the claim is about a demand for payment you would like to enforce in court, the most important ground for any fee is the amount of money involved in a case. By and large, it can be broken down to a simple formula: The higher the value of dispute, the higher the fees of courts and lawyers. Through this rigid scale, costs may be calculated well from the beginning as far as the value of the specific claim is without doubt.
However, in some cases the law encourages the lawyer to make a fee agreement with her client, as it is the case in my practice. This is valid for cases that require a legal assessment independent of any dispute pending, for instance the drafting of contractual terms, the creation of a will, or the legal validation of terms laid down in a tenancy agreement. The fee that lawyer and client agree on eventually may not be lower than the fee prescribed by law in the Lawyers' Fees Act.
Criminal Defence Fees
As far as criminal defence in German courts is concerned, there are no points of orientation regarding the value of the dispute, as the matter is not about claims but an offence that is said to have been committed. Instead, lawmakers have drawn up a reference frame that defines minimum and maximum fees payable. It is the lawyer herself who decides which fee to demand depending on the time devoted to the case, the legal and practical difficulties that go with it (for instance the amount of evidence to be examined), or the time spent at trial. There are, however, rough guidelines how to classify certain case constellations in order for excessive fees to be avoided.
Moreover, it is possible in criminal defence, as it is in private law cases, to close a fee agreement if you so wish. If this is not the case, my fees are calculated according to the Lawyers' Fees Act as described above. I will inform you thoroughly on the charges to expect in your individual case and what to do to avoid unnecessary expenses.