In this week's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I want to talk about a question that I actually get asked about frequently by prospective clients in breach of contract or commercial collections cases, and that is can we recover attorney fees in our case. Because Liberty Legal Solutions, LLC, does not handle breach of contract or similar cases on a contingency basis, clients do not want to pay significant attorney fees in order to get a judgment on what has been owed them. They have already lost profits, revenues, or costs in exchange for goods or services. Now they have to pay a lawyer to recover for the amount that the client claims is owed them, so they want to know if they can require the defendant to pay them for their attorney fees, in addition to what the defendant owes them under the contract that was breached. In today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I'm answering the question, “Can I sue for attorney fees in a breach of contract case?” The answer is yes, but it's a long road ahead.
First of all, Oklahoma has a law on the books about recovering attorney fees. As you may know, the general rule with most lawsuits (often called the American rule), is that in most personal injury cases (and other cases that involve negligence or tort), you don't get to recover attorney fees from the other side (unless you're alleging property damage). However, under Section 936 of Title 12 of Oklahoma Statutes, you can usually collect attorney's fees from the defendant when you sue and get a judgment for breach of contract.
In order for this to happen, there are some requirements. Most importantly, you have to “prevail,” or win, which means you obtained a judgment against defendant. Also, you need to obtain a judgment for money damages, and not other types of relief, like injunctions or equitable relief. Lastly, the amount of attorney's fees being sought must be reasonable and necessary; sometimes your attorney will need to submit an affidavit telling the Court how his or her fees were calculated, etc.
You can also sometimes recover attorney fees, even when you do not have a claim for money damages, if your contract has a provision that provides if a party breaches the contract, then attorney fees can be awarded to the prevailing party in an action for breach of that contract. This type of language is helpful when you are seeking equitable relief, such as an injunction, or specific performance.
Thinking about starting a small business? Or maybe your small business is having issues with contracts, leases, business partners, collection issues, or experiencing other barriers to growth? Please contact me at [email protected] to schedule a FREE strategy session.
For more information about Liberty Legal Solutions, LLC, please visit our website at http://www.libertylegalok.com/