(a) As used in this rule the term "contingent fee arrangement" means an agreement for legal services of an attorney or attorneys, including any associated or forwarding counsel, under which compensation, contingent in whole or in part upon the successful accomplishment or disposition of the subject matter of the agreement, is to be in an amount which either is fixed or is to be determined under a formula.
(b) An attorney shall not enter into a contingent fee arrangement without first having advised the client of the right and afforded the client an opportunity to retain the attorney under an arrangement for compensation on the basis of the reasonable value of the services.
(c) In any matter where a client's claim for damages is based upon the alleged tortious conduct of another, including products liability claims and claims among family members that are subject to Part V of these Rules but excluding statutorily based discrimination and employment claims, and the client is not a subrogee, an attorney shall not contract for, charge, or collect a contingent fee in excess of the following limits:
(1) 33 1/3% on the first $500,000 recovered;
(2) 30% on the next $500,000 recovered;
(3) 25% on the next $500,000 recovered;
(4) 20% on the next $500,000 recovered; and
(5) on all amounts recovered in excess of the above by application for reasonable fee in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (f) hereof; and
(6) where the amount recovered is for the benefit of a client who was a minor or mentally incapacitated when the contingent fee arrangement was made, the foregoing limits shall apply, except that the fee on any amount recovered by settlement without trial shall not exceed 25%.
(d) The permissible fee provided for in paragraph (c) shall be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting disbursements in connection with the institution and prosecution of the claim, whether advanced by the attorney or by the client, including investigation expenses, expenses for expert or other testimony or evidence, the cost of briefs and transcripts on appeal, and any interest included in a judgment pursuant to R. 4:42-11(b); but no deduction need be made for post-judgment interest or for liens, assignments or claims in favor of hospitals or for medical care and treatment by doctors and nurses, or similar items. The permissible fee shall include legal services rendered on any appeal or review proceeding or on any retrial, but this shall not be deemed to require an attorney to take an appeal. When joint representation is undertaken in both the direct and derivative action, or when a claim for wrongful death is joined with a claim on behalf of a decedent, the contingent fee shall be calculated on the aggregate sum of the recovery.
(e) Paragraph (c) of this rule is intended to fix maximum permissible fees and does not preclude an attorney from entering into a contingent fee arrangement providing for, or from charging or collecting a contingent fee below such limits. In all cases contingent fees charged or collected must conform to RPC 1.5(a).
(f) If at the conclusion of a matter an attorney considers the fee permitted by paragraph (c) to be inadequate, an application on written notice to the client may be made to the Assignment Judge for the hearing and determining of a reasonable fee in light of all the circumstances. This rule shall not preclude the exercise of a client's existing right to a court review of the reasonableness of an attorney's fee.
(g) Where the amount of the contingent fee is limited by the provisions of paragraph (c) of this rule, the contingent fee arrangement shall be in writing, signed both by the attorney and the client, and a signed duplicate shall be given to the client. Upon conclusion of the matter resulting in a recovery, the attorney shall prepare and furnish the client with a signed closing statement.
(h) Calculation of Fee in Structured Settlements. As used herein the term "structured settlement" refers to the payment of any settlement between the parties or judgment entered pursuant to a proceeding approved by the Court, the terms of which provide for the payment of the funds to be received by the plaintiff on an installment basis. For purposes of paragraph (c), the basis for calculation of a contingent fee shall be the value of the structured settlement as herein defined. Value shall consist of any cash payment made upon consummation of the settlement plus the actual cost to the party making the settlement of the deferred payment aspects thereof. In the event that the party paying the settlement does not purchase the deferred payment component, the actual cost thereof shall be the actual cost assigned by that party to that component. For further purposes of this rule, the party making the settlement offer shall, at the time the offer is made, disclose to the party receiving the settlement offer its actual cost and, if it does not purchase the deferred payment aspect of the settlement, the factors and assumptions used by it in assigning actual cost.
(i) Calculation of Fee in Settlement of Class or Multiple Party Actions. When representation is undertaken on behalf of several persons whose respective claims, whether or not joined in one action, arise out of the same transaction or set of facts or involve substantially identical liability issues, the contingent fee shall be calculated on the basis of the aggregate sum of all recoveries, whether by judgment, settlement or both, and shall be charged to the clients in proportion to the recovery of each. Counsel may, however, make application for modification of the fee pursuant to paragraph (f) of this rule in appropriate cases.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Court Rule 1:21-7. Contingent Fees
Court Rule 1:21-7. Contingent Fees