Who Pays Attorney Fees In A Breach Of Contract Case in Oklahoma?

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A frequently asked question is who pays attorney fees in a breach of contract case. The primary rule governing the payment of attorney’s fees has had an unusual recent history in Oklahoma. Nonetheless, the prevailing party can recover its attorney’s fees in some cases, including breach of contract cases. In many cases, current Oklahoma statutory law covers the payment of attorney’s fees. You may need legal advice if you have a question about the payment of attorney’s fees in a particular case.

Oklahoma And The American Rule

An important part of the American legal system is the ability to file a lawsuit without the risk of incurring high costs if the case is lost. The American Rule, the predominant legal doctrine governing the payment of attorney’s fees in the U.S., requires that each party pay for their attorney’s fees subject to exceptions, such as a term in a contract or a statute allowing recovery. The American Rule reduces excessive attorney’s fees in a legal case.

Five years ago, Oklahoma “inadvertently” enacted HB 1470, which overturned the American Rule. After various attorneys, legal scholars, and other authorities pointed out the mistake and effect of the enacted legislation, it was quickly replaced. The law would have required the non-prevailing party to pay the attorney’s fees of the prevailing party in almost all types of civil actions in Oklahoma.

The Payment Of Attorney’s Fees Under Oklahoma Law

In specific civil actions to recover payment related to the following, you may receive an award of reasonable attorney’s fees set by the court, to be taxed and collected as costs:

  • labor or services rendered
  • an open account
  • a statement of account, account stated
  • a note, bill, or negotiable instrument
  • a contract relating to the purchase or sale of goods, wares, or merchandise

Breach Of Contract Cases

This law applies to breach of contract actions in Oklahoma unless some other Oklahoma law provides otherwise or the contract, which is the subject of the action, contains provisions that apply to the payment of attorney’s fees. This contract can be written or in some cases may include verbal contracts.

Express Warranty Cases

In any civil action to recover damages for breach of an express warranty or to enforce the terms of an express warranty against the seller, retailer, manufacturer, manufacturer’s representative, or distributor of the product or service under warranty, the prevailing party may recover an award of reasonable attorney’s fees set by the court and collected as costs.

Construction Contract Breaches

Another common contract dispute is often found in construction contracts. Once again the prevailing party may ask the court to grant attorney fees. This may involve warranty issues or any other provision in the contract that was breached. Both the contractor or the person contracting for service can bring a lawsuit for breach. And, the prevailing party can ask that they are awarded attorney fees for the breach. An example might be when their is an express or implied warranty attached to the project and it was breached. On the other hand, if a buyer fails to pay the contract amount for the construction project they may be charged attorney fees for the breach. Many contracts in Oklahoma will contain arbitration clauses and this type of clause can impact how attorney fees are allotted in the case of disputes.

Cost of Collecting Insufficient Checks

Suppose you bring a civil action to collect on a check, or similar bill drawn on a bank or otherwise. If the payment on the instrument was refused because of insufficient funds or no account. In that case, the prevailing party may recover an award of reasonable attorney’s fees. The amount is set by the court and collected as costs.

To receive an award of attorney’s fees, proof is required that demand for payment of the check, draft, or similar bill of exchange had been made upon the defendant by registered or certified mail not less than ten days before filing the suit.

Tulsa Okla. Business Law Attorneys

The attorneys at Kania Law Office are experienced and knowledgeable in cases involving all types of business transactions. Our business attorneys have an extensive background representing all types of business clients. This ranges from small sole proprietorships and limited liability companies to partnerships and large to medium-sized corporations. We strive for a complete understanding of the needs of our business clients so they may achieve the best possible result. For more information about how our Oklahoma business law attorneys can help you call (918) 743-2233  or contact us online.

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