Supreme Court Clarifies Procedural Grounds Governing legal fees

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of Justice provided an interpretation regarding the recovery of legal fees.

Based on the provisions of art. 453 par. 1 of Civil Procedure Code provides that the party who loses the proceedings in front of the court is liable to pay the other party’s legal fees. The winning party may request its legal fees in the same trial or separately.

The question before the court was whether the winning party who files a claim to recover the legal fees incurred in the underlying case might also recover its legal fees incurred in this procedure to recover fees.

This issue has been addressed by some courts that dismissed the request, holding that the losing party (on the merits of the case) cannot be held liable two times in a row. Once for the judgment awarded by the first court (thus, becoming liable for these legal fees) and then a second time in the separate claim when ordering that party to pay additional expenses generated by the separate claim.

However, in reaching its conclusion, the Supreme Court of Justice considered the doctrine and national jurisprudence to conclude that the provisions of art. 453, par. 1 applies also when the winning party claims its legal fees in a separate procedure. This means that the rules that govern the payment of the legal fees also apply to the separate claim that litigates the recovery of legal fees. The Court reasoned that the plaintiff could not be held liable for choosing a separate procedure to recover its legal fees since this is not an abuse of this right.

The Supreme Court Justice of Romania issued its decision in this matter on 18 September 2017. Decision no. 59/2017 has now been published in the Official Gazette.

Stratulat Albulescu - Attorneys at law