Awards of Attorneys' Fees by Federal Courts and Federal Agencies
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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In the United States, the general rule, which derives from common law, is that each side in a legal proceeding pays for its own attorney. There are many exceptions, however, in which federal courts, and occasionally federal agencies, may order the losing party to pay the attorneys fees of the prevailing party. The major common law exception authorizes federal courts not agencies to order a losing party that acts in bad faith to pay the prevailing partys fees. There are also roughly two hundred statutory exceptions, which were generally enacted to encourage private litigation to implement public policy. Awards of attorneys fees are often designed to help to equalize contests between private individual plaintiffs and corporate or governmental defendants. Thus, attorneys fees provisions are most often found in civil rights, environmental protection, and consumer protection statutes.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Sociology and Law