[JURIST] Germany's Federal Constitutional Court [official website, in German] Tuesday upheld [press release, in German] a 2004 statute limiting lawyers fees [German Federal Bar Association backgrounder, PDF] unless payment is negotiated beforehand. The court ruled that because the lawyers are able to negotiate higher rates with clients, a statutory cap for unnegotiated fees is permissible and justifiable as a way to protect clients from excessive expenses. A lawyer for Kapellmann & Partner [corporate website] told Bloomberg that the court failed to address a key issue with the law that relates to firms that represent government agencies. As agencies normally do not accept individual fees, lawyers do not have the ability to negotiate higher salaries, like they do when dealing with private clients.
In a statement [text, in German] responding to the court's decision, Dr. Bernhard Dombek [profile, in German], president of the German Federal Bar Association [profession website, in German], complained that such caps shift the risk of legal fees to the lawyers. Bloomberg has more.