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In keeping with their ethical obligations, and going a step further, the lawyers of the Altea partnership intend to maintain a policy of total transparency toward their clients, implying maximum predictability in terms of expenses and fees pricing.

The lawyers of the Altea law firm are committed to, insofar as possible, discussing in detail the financial implications of each phase of their client's case with them. Their line of conduct also calls for them to consistently take into account financial concerns, including the amount of their expenses and fees, when counselling their clients on a strategy.

The calculation method used for expenses and fees is based on the basic principles below.

Detailed calculation assumptions for expenses and fees for each case will be discussed with the client at the time the case is opened and their express approval will be required.

Fees

Fees remunerate the lawyer for the service they provide, that is, all of the tasks they must complete in order to successfully fulfil the mission entrusted to them. Some of these tasks are clearly apparent. Many others essential for the effective execution of the mission are less so.

Among other things, services can include reading documents and reviewing files, meetings, legal research, verbal and written consultations, telephone conversations, preparing and writing pleadings (summons, submissions, memorandums, etc.), travel and appearances at hearings, pleadings, wait time at hearings, etc.).

The lawyers involved in a case will keep a complete record of the services provided. This enables the creation, at any time, of a precise statement of all work done and the cost.

Unless there is a special formula tied to specific circumstances, Altea's lawyers will calculate fees billed using an hourly rate.

A base hourly rate is set for the lawyer in charge of the case. If required, tiered pricing is provided for partners, colleagues registered on the roll, and trainees. The base rate for each category of lawyer involved will be applied taking the client's situation into account. In this respect, special attention will be paid to private individuals and members of the non-profit sector. The exact rates applicable to each case will be agreed at the start of the client relationship.

Hourly rates can be adjusted when a case requires significant specialisation, emergency work, or when the result obtained is particularly favourable to the client, notably in terms of financial gain ("success fee"). In some instances, the firm's lawyers can suggest billing based on a set fee for each phase of the procedure (for simple or repetitive procedures such as hearings at the CGRA, affidavits, etc.). These specificities must, however, be expressly agreed with the client when the case is opened and, unless the lawyer confirms otherwise in writing, the straight hourly rate will be applied.

Expenses

Independently of the legal service provided by the lawyer in charge of a case and, potentially, their colleagues, the handling of the case will entail many expenses, either inherent to it or related to the operation of the law firm. A portion of these expenses are covered by the fees billed. Other expenses, directly related to the expenditures incurred by the case, will be billed in addition to the actual fees.

Two calculation formulas for expenses are available to clients based on the practice of the lawyers involved. In either case, the firm's lawyers commit to capping expenses for each fee statement at maximum 25% of the amount of fees billed. Experience shows that, even with moderate hourly rates, expenses generally amount to between 15 and 20% of the fees billed (excluding disbursements).

The first method is to charge at actual cost. Therefore we suggest the following fee grid in principle (amounts exclude VAT) :

  • Fixed expenses to open the case : €50
  • Correspondence : €9 (plus €7.50 for registered post and €2 per additional recipient)
  • Other typing : €15 per page
  • E-mail : €3
  • Travel : €0.4/km
  • Telephone (per minute) : €0.5 (fixed line) and €0.75 (mobile)
  • Fax : €0.5
  • Photocopies, per page : €0.3

The second method consists in calculating semi-fixed expenses. In this case, the lawyer will offer to calculate the expenses related to handling the case based on €40 for opening and basic administration of the case plus €15 for every typed page.  This assessment method encompasses all expense items that are calculated on an actual basis using the other method.

Regardless of the formula selected, proceedings expenses and other potential expenditures (bailiff and registry expenses, administrative costs for civil status documents and other documents, technical counselling fees, etc.) are either billed directly by the third party (bailiff, translator, expert, etc.) or added to the bill based on receipts.

Potential third party involvement

Prior to contacting a lawyer, it's essential that the client check if they can benefit from the involvement of a third party payer, for example, through a "legal protection" insurance policy.  After first informing the lawyer to whom their case is assigned, the client should then immediately initiate the steps required by the third party payer to request that they cover all or a portion of the services and expenses incurred.

The client is responsible for any fees and expenses over and above the amount paid by the third party payer. This is also true in the event that the third party payer refuses to pay for services rendered.

Billing

Based on what is agreed with the lawyer handling the case, requests for an advance payment may be made at the beginning or during the course of the work. They shall be immmediately payable and shall constitute an advance payment of the expenses and fees incurred in the handling of the case. The amounts of the advance payment shall be deducted from the statements of expenses and fees that are subsequently submitted.

The statements of fees and expenses and any requests for advance payment shall be submitted in light of the progress of the case. The frequency to which Altea lawyers commit enables clients to remain abreast of the costs incurred by their case so that they can better manage their payments. The statements are fully representative of the progress of work and of the expenses and charges outstanding on the day of the request. A detailed report of the services and expenses will be attached. With the exception of the first advance, and unless there is a special agreement in place, notably with respect to spreading payments, all intermediate and final expense and fees bills shall be payable in principle within 15 or 30 days, as specified.

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