• Germany's news in English
Munich court tells lawyer he isn’t worth €8,000 an hour
Photo: DPA

Munich court tells lawyer he isn’t worth €8,000 an hour

The Local · 27 Apr 2016, 10:31

Published: 27 Apr 2016 10:31 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

If ever there was a lesson in reading the small print in contracts it came at in Munich courtroom, where a lawyer and his unfortunate client bartered over just how much three hours of the lawyer’s time were worth.

The client, a management expert, had hired the lawyer to advise him on setting up his own company, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

He had been expecting a bill of around €1,000 for the service, so when he found that he’d been charged €24,681 he let the lawyer know that he was neither able nor willing to stump up the cash.

The 43-year-old client was unemployed when he hired the lawyer in autumn of last year.

His local job centre had advised him to set up his own consultancy company. Having no experience of running his own firm, the man hired the lawyer to advise him on how to properly manage the legal side of his new venture.

Speaking to the court on Tuesday, he said it was his understanding that he would pay the lawyer a fee of €290 per hour.

He added that he’d made that clear at the time, because he was unemployed and was almost broke.

Clearly this had little effect on the crafty jurist.

Rather than working the bill out according to the hours he’d worked, he calculated it as a percentage of the overall value of the company - which he estimated at €1.2 million.

At the start of the hearing the judge cast doubt on the lawyer’s accounting.

She said that the fee was strictly covered by the contract, but made clear she would bring in the bar association for their assessment if the case were to be taken further.

As a compromise she proposed a fee of €3,000, which she described as appropriate for three hours of work.

Story continues below…

The lawyer was quick to agree, SZ reports. Although he halfheartedly tried to haggle for €10,000, then €5,000, then €4,000, he soon submitted to the judge’s proposal.

He was much more insistent that his former client take down a negative review he had written about him on the internet.

The client reluctantly agreed to the fee, while repeatedly insisting that it was “an unjustifiable amount of money.”

The only question remaining is who comes out worse. The lawyer who rips off his customers by inserting dodgy small print into contracts, or a “management expert” who isn’t capable of looking after the small details of a business contract?

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Supermarket Edeka warns of exploding apple juice bottles
Photo: DPA

"Risk of injury" from "Gut und Günstig" sparkling apple juice bottles has forced Germany's largest supermarket to recall the product.

By wheelchair from Syria to Germany: teen's story of hope
Nujeen Mustafa. Photo: HarperCollins-William Collins Publicity/Private

She tackled the gruelling 2,000-kilometre migrant trail in a wheelchair, translating along the way for other refugees using English she learned from a US soap opera. Now this teen is living in Germany and hoping to inspire others with a newly published memoir.

Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer
A recently born panda pair at Vienna Zoo. Photo: DPA

The giant bamboo-eating bears will move into a brand new 5,000 square-metre enclosure in the capital's Zoologischer Garten.

Two new spider species discovered in Munich
Zoropsis spinimana. Photo: rankingranqueen / Wikimedia Commons

It's news every arachnophobe in Munich is no doubt thrilled to hear: two types of spider new to the region have been discovered in the Bavarian capital - and one of them bites!

After woman's body found in barrel, husband may walk free
Franziska S., who went missing 24 years ago. Photo: Hanover police.

A woman disappeared in Hanover 24 years ago, but no one reported her missing. Although her husband has now confessed to her murder, he still may not step foot in jail.

Two injured after army tank falls 50 metres in Alps
A Bundeswehr Puma tank. File photo: DPA

A Bundeswehr (German army) soldier has been severely injured after the tank he was riding in crashed 50 metres down an embankment after going off course in bad weather.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd