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Top Ten Topics in 2024: Can I Sue for Attorney Fees in Breach of Contract?

Posted by Jonathan Krems | Mar 07, 2024 | 0 Comments

In this week's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, we're concluding the series on the Top Ten Topics in 2024, and this week, we're answering a question that I get from a lot of clients and prospective clients, especially when they're owed money due to breach of contract, and that is can we sue for, or collect, attorney fees in their breach of contract case.  Many 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 to 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 breach of contract?”  The answer is yes, but it's a long road ahead.

First of all, Oklahoma follows what is called the American rule when it comes to recovering attorney fees.  The American rule means that in most lawsuits, especially those in personal injury, negligence, or tort cases, 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 the 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 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.

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About the Author

Jonathan Krems

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Attorney of Liberty Legal Solutions, LLC, a law firm dedicated to building, protecting, and defending the business and personal interests of our clients in Oklahoma.  Jonathan's primary practice areas are business law, contracts and agreements, business liti...


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