Monday, April 14, 2008

Timely Filing Of Retainer Statement Required To Sue For Legal Fees

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department held that a law firm suing for legal fees was precluded from doing so by the failure to timely file the fee agreement, which is a prerequisite to a claim for fees:

"The motion court properly granted defendants summary judgment to the extent indicated in this fee dispute between attorneys, where plaintiffs failed to file retainer statements in compliance with Rules of the Appellate Division, First Department (22 NYCRR) ยง 603.7(a)(3), "a prerequisite to receipt of compensation for legal services" (Rabinowitz v Cousins, 219 AD2d 487, 488 [1995]). Plaintiffs' belated filing of several of the subject retainer statements was insufficient to preserve their right to recover legal fees. Indeed, the record shows that these statements were only filed in response to defendants' motion for summary judgment and plaintiffs did not seek permission to file the statements nunc pro tunc. Nor did plaintiffs offer a reasonable excuse for their failure to timely file (compare Matter of Abreu, 168 Misc 2d 229, 234 [1996])." (Mike Frisch)

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