That is not enough information to make a good estimate of the costs, according to the Amsterdam court. The decision in the case is largely based on a judgment of the European Court of Justice from June of last year.
The case first concerns the question of whether the client should be treated by the law firm as a consumer or as a company. The customer claims so, because he engaged the lawyers to evict tenants from a property that he had as a private investment.
With the so-called assignment confirmation, the law firm emailed the man confirmation of what they had agreed by telephone about the job. This involved an hourly rate of 165 euros with an additional 21 percent VAT and 5 percent office costs. The man would receive a bill every month.
Part of bills not paid
That eventually amounted to a considerable amount. The man refused to pay part of all those bills. The office then went to court to force the man to transfer the money.
He does not have to, according to the judgment published earlier this week. Although the man and his company had previously done business with the office, in this case it was clear that he presented himself as a private person, for example by using his name on the invoices. And because he had mentioned that the house falls in box 3 for him, something that is only relevant for the income tax return.
The next question is whether reporting the hourly rate is sufficient information for a consumer to estimate the final costs. The answer is ‘no’, the court again refers to a ruling of the European Court. The law firm should have provided more information about the minimum hours the case would take.
The client asked for an estimate of the costs, and the lawyer in question gave him a number of ten hours. According to the judges, this is ‘not yet sufficiently transparent’. That number of hours was mentioned in another procedure. Such an assessment is missing in the agreements about the case in question, as well as in the emails about the matter.
Judge rejects claim
All in all, the judge considers the course of events ‘unfair’. And that is why he rejects the law firm’s claim. As a result, the customer does not still have to pay 2,127.55 euros in unpaid invoices. And not the 319.13 extra costs.