Therefore, a motion for attorneys' fees must be proven by (a) testimony of the total hours performed by the lawyer and the associates and paralegals; (b) testimony of the reasonable hourly rate of all of these; and (c) testimony that the hours were reasonable and necessary for the party's representation. Once attorneys' fees are awarded, there is a mini-evidentiary hearing to determine the “reasonableness of those fees”. Another lawyer, the expert in reasonable attorney's fees, is of the opinion that the fee and hours spent are reasonable. The opposing party then has its own expert to give a different opinion.
Quite archaic and ridiculous in my opinion. However, the reasonable fee expert is how do you do with another lawyer who testifies that the fees incurred by the prevailing lawyer were “reasonable fees”. In addition, the Court noted that the trial court did not receive invoices or records detailing the services provided, and it appeared that the lawyer did not testify in support of his fees. The appeals court held that “a party seeks to recover previously incurred attorneys' fees as an element of compensation for damages in a separate breach of contract action, that party is not required to provide an independent expert witness to substantiate the reasonableness of the fees.
A lawyer seeking an award of attorney's fees can testify to the amount of time spent, but they must provide some expert testimony as to what would be a reasonable hourly rate. At Quality, the only evidence the trial court seems to have received regarding attorney fees is the plaintiff's client's affidavit. On the other side of the spectrum, a lawyer's fees can become an issue in and of itself if a lawyer sues a former client for unpaid legal fees. To prove this amount, the lawyer presented as evidence the withholding agreement, the invoice sent to the client with the amount due, and the promissory note.
In addition, the need for expert testimony is complicated in cases where a lawyer requests the fees of a former client. To do so, the trial court must first determine the “lost star amount,” which is the number of attorney hours reasonably invested in your lawsuit, multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate, given a variety of considerations related to your lawsuit. In cases where counsel is employed on a contingent fee basis, after reaching the lost star figure, the trial court “may add or subtract from the fee based on a 'contingency risk' factor and the 'results obtained. The lawyer argued that no such testimony was required and that his own testimony justified the fees.
Parties wishing to ensure that the prevailing party is entitled to the attorneys' fees incurred in litigating the amount of the fees should expressly stipulate this by contract and, in doing so, may wish to carefully examine the fee provisions at issue in the Waverly, ICC and Burton Family cases Partnership. The Court reversed the award of attorneys' fees in that case because the trial court's findings “on the reasonableness of the hours invested and the reasonableness of the hourly rate could not be said to be supported by competent and substantial evidence. Under the old “American Rule,” each party to the dispute is responsible for the fees and costs of its own attorneys, in the absence of a contractual or legal basis for awarding fees to the prevailing party. In civil litigation, the issue of attorneys' fees may arise when the prevailing party requests such fees as part of its award.
In Florida, when a party requests the award of attorneys' fees, expert testimony is usually needed to establish the reasonableness of those fees. .