Unilateral Attorney’s Fees in Florida

EPGD Law Civil Litigation

In most contracts, there is a provision for attorney’s fees, sometimes called a prevailing party clause. This provision states that if legal action must be taken to enforce the contract, the prevailing party will get its attorney’s fees and costs paid by the losing party. Under Florida law, attorney’s fees are contractual or statutory, meaning that this provision must be included in contracts or statutes to be enforced. Because of this, it is important to include an attorney’s fees clause in any contract in Florida.

Some contracts may have language that makes the attorney’s fees provision unilateral, meaning that only one party to the contract would benefit from the attorney’s fees language. Unilateral attorney’s fees are not enforceable in Florida. If there is language about a party paying the other party’s attorney’s fees in the event of a dispute, that clause must be reciprocal.

Should There Be An Attorney’s Fees Clause in My Contract?

An attorney’s fees clause serves as a tool to avoid frivolous lawsuits. Having an attorney’s fees clause might prevent a party from suing over a minor dispute if there is a possibility of paying for the other party’s costs at the end of the lawsuit. This promotes more amicable dispute resolution, rather than defaulting to a lawsuit every time parties disagree.

Attorney’s fees clauses also promote prompt litigation. The more drawn out a lawsuit is, the more expensive it becomes. If the parties know that one side will have to pay the other’s attorney’s fees, the parties will be motivated to move litigation along in a timely manner.

What is a Prevailing Party in Florida?

A prevailing party is the winner of a lawsuit or other legal dispute. Although the concept of a prevailing party seems straightforward, the winner of a complex lawsuit is not always clear. Leaving the term “prevailing party” undefined in the attorney’s fees clause leaves more room for interpretation in cases with complicated outcomes.

Can I Counter-Sue for Attorney’s Fees?

In Florida, attorney’s fees are only enforceable under contract or statute. This means that you must have an attorney’s fees clause in a contract for the court to enforce it or the statute that you are suing under provides for attorney’s fees. Some Florida statutes that provide for attorney’s fees include the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and Fla. Stat. §57.105.

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Eric Gros-Dubois

Founding partner Eric Gros-Dubois established EPGD Business Law in 2013. With over a decade of experience expanding the firm and leading it to its current success, Eric now primarily manages the corporate division of EPGD. Given Eric’s educational background, holding both a JD and MBA, combined with his own unique experience of starting a business from scratch and growing it to a multi-million dollar firm, he brings a specialized and invaluable perspective to those seeking legal assistance for themselves and their businesses. Having now instilled his same values in our team of skilled corporate associates, Eric leads a firm that is always ready, willing, and equipped to handle any and every legal matter that a business owner may have.

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