Are personal injury attorneys overpaid

AG Mannheim: Lawyer is entitled to the highest (2.5 times) business fee

AG Mannheim, judgment of August 27, 2008, Az. 14 C 138/08
§ 667 BGB, No. 2400 VV RVG

The AG Mannheim has granted a law firm the maximum fee, i.e. 2.5 times the business fee (No. 2400 VV RVG), instead of the average fee of 1.3 that is customary for out-of-court activities under the RVG. In this case - not from online trade law, but from personal injury law - the prerequisites for this judge's verdict were very high. The judge justified her decision as follows:

- Extreme cut in life due to severe personal injury
- Healing complications with permanent damage
- well above average total processing time of 24 working hours
- Excessive processing time of twelve months with the need for repeated training
- non-regulating liability insurer
- disputed reason for liability
- Requirement of special knowledge

Mannheim District Court


In matters


for damages

the Mannheim District Court recognized by… based on the oral hearing on August 4th, 2008 with a written submission period for the defendants until August 20th, 2008 for law:

1. The complaint is rejected.
2. The plaintiff bears the costs of the legal dispute.
3. The judgment is provisionally enforceable.

Facts and reasons for the decision
(abbreviated in accordance with Section 313 a (1) ZPO)

The admissible action is unfounded.

The plaintiff has no claim against the defendant for payment of EUR 480.30 according to § 667 BGB. In this respect, the plaintiff submits to justify a claim against the defendant that she overpayed you advances that they would have reimbursed by third parties.

However, the plaintiff did not pay the defendants too much in advances.

The fee claim to which the defendant is entitled from the mandate relationship with ... is essentially undisputed. There is only no agreement on the appropriateness of the extrajudicial business fee according to No. 2400 VV RVG. While the defendants set the maximum fee of 2.5, the plaintiff is of the opinion that only twice the fee is appropriate.

The approach of the maximum fee of 2.5 was however appropriate in the present case. In this respect, the defendants have detailed the criteria used for the assessment:

- Extreme cut in life due to severe personal injury

- Healing complications with permanent damage

- well above average total processing time of 24 hours

- Excessive processing time of almost 12 months with the need for repeated training

- non-regulating liability insurer

- disputed reason for liability

- Required of special knowledge.

Based on the above circumstances, the maximum fee approach is justified. The court can rule on this without obtaining an opinion from the Bar Association according to § 14 Paragraph 2 RVG, since the amount of the fees is not disputed between the lawyer and the client, but only between the lawyer and legal protection insurance as a "third party" within the meaning of § 14 Paragraph 1 Sentence 4 RVG. In the process, the plaintiff did not raise any substantiated objections to the equity of the fee rate.

The plaintiff can also not successfully object that the defendant's client had no insurance cover for the legal dispute against her husband in accordance with Section 3 (4a) ARB 94/00 anyway.

This legal objection was only put forward in the pleading dated July 21, 2008, while the plaintiff had never raised the issue of insurance coverage in the statement of grounds for the claim of April 19, 2008 or before the litigation. The defendants have also stated in the abridged brief of August 6, 2008 that the plaintiff ... had issued an unrestricted cover letter and then continued to make advances to the defendant in the knowledge of the litigation that was conducted exclusively against the plaintiff's husband. This means that the validity of Section 3 (4) a ARB 94/00 - should it actually have been the contractual basis of the legal protection insurance contract - is at least implicitly canceled by an individual agreement.

In any case, it appears to be in breach of good faith if, in view of the unrestricted cover commitment and the very intensive out-of-court correspondence with the defendants, the plaintiff suddenly invokes a lack of cover for the legal representation as well.

Finally, the plaintiff cannot demand the amount claimed by arguing that the amounts reimbursed to the defendant by third parties (court costs) had been transferred to it according to Section 86 (1) VVG new version, so that these funds were foreign money for the defendants.

It may be irrelevant whether such a transfer of claims took place at all with regard to Section 86 (3) VVG new version. In any case, the cessio legis pursuant to Section 86 (1) sentence 2 VVG cannot be asserted by the plaintiff to the detriment of the defendant's client as the policy holder. In the present case, this means that the plaintiff can only reclaim those amounts paid out to the defendant by a third party that the defendant is not entitled to as a fee. Otherwise, the defendants would have to consider themselves their client because of the fee not reimbursed by the opposing legal protection insurance to the injured party, which would represent a disadvantage for them within the meaning of Section 86 (1) sentence 2 VVG new version.

In the absence of a main claim, the ancillary claims asserted by the plaintiff must also be rejected as unfounded.

The procedural secondary decisions follow from Section 91 (1) ZPO and from Sections 708 No. 11, 713 ZPO.