Thu, Oct. 19, 2006

Fees for Spam to Lawyer

CK - Washington.   There is some debate in Germany over whether or not lawyers may demand legal fees for the prosecution of their own claims. Generally, matters of minor significance which would not ordinarily require the engagement of an attorney do not trigger an award of legal fees. An October 16, 2006 decision by the Bautzen court examines these rules in the context of spam sent to a law firm.

In the matter 22 C 0492/05, EMail spam reached a law firm which sent a cease and desist demand to the spammer and requested the reimbursement of its statutory legal fees under traditional theories for damages to their business. The spammer refused to pay.

The Bautzen court explained that spam sent to a law firm is particularly damaging because lawyers, possibly more than others, must examine every mailed item. The simply act of sending even a single EMail into the junk pile is fraught with risk.

Therefore, a single spam item may justify immediate defensive action by a lawyer. While drafting a cease and desist demand may not always be the most difficult task, the challenge of researching the underlying facts--such as identifying the true originator or beneficiary of the spam--must be taken into consideration when weighing whether or not the matter requires legal skill and justifies legal fees.

In this instance, the Bautzen court held that the required skill and presented task did warrant a lawyer's expertise and awarded the firm legal fees. These are to be computed on the statutory basis of a value in dispute, assessed here at 5,100 Euros.

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