American Rule

News & Analysis as of

Delaware Legislature Rejects Fee-Shifting Bylaws for Stock Corporations

On June 24, Delaware’s Governor signed Senate Bill No. 75 into law and closed the door on the tantalizing prospect of fee shifting (“loser pays”) bylaws for Delaware stock corporations. The full text of the bill can be read...more

The “American Rule” Prevails: The Supreme Court denies certain fees in bankruptcy cases

In 2005, ASARCO LLC, a copper mining, smelting and refining company, was in financial trouble and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Relying on §327(a) and §1107(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, ASARCO retained two law firms to...more

U.S. Supreme Court: Attorney’s Fees Provisions Must be Strictly Construed

“Our basic point of reference when considering the award of attorney’s fees is the bedrock principle known as the American Rule: Each litigant pays his own attorney’s fees, win or lose, unless a statute or contract provides...more

Contractual Provisions Can Aid in the Recovery of Attorney’s Fees, But Consider the Unintended Consequences

Although the “American Rule” provides that each side pay its own attorneys’ fees, if your dispute arises from a contractual relationship, a “prevailing party” provision or indemnification clause may obligate one of the...more

Pay to Play: §327(a) Professionals Pay their Own Defense Costs in Litigation Challenging Fee Applications

On June 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made clear that attorneys and other professionals hired under §327(a) of the Bankruptcy Code are not entitled to fees for their time spent litigating a §330(a)(1) fee...more

Client Alert: Hurts So Good - US Supreme Court Rejects Attorneys Fees in Chapter 11

On June 15, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that a law firm could not recover fees it incurred in defending its own fee application. THE ASARCO CASE - The case involved the copper company ASARCO LLC that filed...more

Delaware House of Representatives Bars Fee-Shifting Provisions but Approves Forum-Selection

There has been considerable interest over the last year about whether a fee-shifting provision in the charter or bylaws of a Delaware corporation is enforceable. On Thursday, June 11, 2015, the Delaware House of...more

Baker Botts v. Asarco: The Supreme Court Shows Again That It Really Doesn’t Understand Corporate Bankruptcy Cases

The Supreme Court has not handled its recent major bankruptcy decisions well. The jurisdictional confusion engendered by its 2011 decision in Stern v. Marshall was only partially clarified by this term’s opinion in Wellness...more

Supreme Court Update: Kerry V. Din (13-1402), Mata V. Lynch (14-185) And Baker Botts V. Asarco (14-103)

The Court took care of some additional throat-clearing on Monday, handing down three decisions: Kerry v. Din (13-1402), holding that no additional process was due a U.S. citizen whose husband's visa application was denied;...more

Supreme Court Decides Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC

On June 15, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC, No. 14-103, holding that § 330(a)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code does not permit bankruptcy courts to award fees that § 327(a) professionals incur...more

Appealing a Trademark Registration Refusal? Win or Lose, You May Have to Pay the USPTO’s Legal Fees

The federal Trademark Act (the Lanham Act) instructs that if an unsuccessful trademark applicant appeals a refusal to register in federal district court, the applicant must name the Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark...more

Stop, Think, and Be Careful What You Ask For: Lessons and Opportunities Created by Recent Arbitration Ruling

On April 21, 2015, the Missouri Court of Appeals in City of Chesterfield v. Frederich Construction Inc. upheld an arbitration award that included substantial attorneys' fees to the prevailing party, in a construction case...more

Locke Lord QuickStudy: The Supreme Court Considers “Fees For Fees”

Lawyers in probate and fiduciary matters, and in bankruptcy and receivership matters, are frequently entitled to seek payment of their fees from a corpus of trust or estate funds. Unlike in employment litigation and civil...more

Is Your Liquidated Damages Provision Sufficient to Make You Whole?

The obvious purpose of a liquidated damages provision is to make your client whole in the event that your business partner breaches the agreement. Nevertheless, K.G.M. Custom Homes. v. Prosky highlights that simply having a...more

Recovery of Attorneys' Fees in Arbitration: A Trap For the Unwary

The so-called “American Rule” generally requires each party to a lawsuit to bear its own costs and attorneys’ fees in the absence of a statute or contract to the contrary. Likewise, there is no inherent power or implied...more

Should an Estate Professional Be Paid for Defending Fees?

Partner Seth H. Lieberman and Associate Patrick Sibley authored the article, "Should An Estate Professional Be Paid For Defending Fees?" which was the lead story in the New York Law Journal's Corporate Restructuring and...more

Blog: CII And Pension Funds Make Their Voices Loud And Clear Over Fee-Shifting Bylaws

As noted in this Reuters post, the Council of Institutional Investors, along with a number of individual pension funds and other institutional investors, have chimed in on the debate currently roiling the Delaware bar over...more

Do Some Companies Already Have Fee-Shifting Provisions (And Not Know It)?

A lot of folks these days are arguing and writing about fee-shifting bylaws as if they were some kind of novel and sudden irruption, like Athena bursting from Zeus’ skull. This overlooks the existence of fee-shifting...more

One-sided “Shareholder Pays” Provisions Approved For Corporate Bylaws

The “American Rule.” To the uninitiated, that name probably conjures up fuzzy feelings of independence. The hardy spirit of our forefathers. Bootstraps and grit. Rocky IV. But to American lawyers, it’s just a rule about...more

Interfere at Your Own Risk: Legal Fees Awarded as Damages for Violating A Non-Compete Agreement

We all know the default American Rule for attorneys’ fees: unless you get fees in a contract or from a statute, you shouldn’t count on someone else paying the freight if you win your case. But a recent non-compete case brings...more

Using Corporate Bylaws and Charters to Set the Rules for Shareholder Litigation

Recent court decisions, including the Delaware Supreme Court’s opinion earlier this month in ATP Tour, Inc. v. Deutscher Tennis Bund, have focused new attention on the use of corporate bylaws and charters to establish the...more

Paradigm Shift? The Delaware Supreme Court Allows Bylaw That Shifts Attorneys’ Fees to Loser in Fiduciary Duty Litigation

Under the prevailing “American rule,” shareholders and their counsel face little financial risk when they assert claims against directors and officers for breaches of fiduciary duty, typically following the announcement of a...more

International Litigation Update: Second Circuit Clarifies Rules Governing Extraterritorial Application of RICO and Definition of...

In a series of recent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has sought to restrict plaintiffs’ ability to apply U.S. law to, and to bring claims in the U.S. courts based on, extraterritorial conduct. In Morrison v. National...more

Delaware Non-Stock Corporations May Adopt Bylaws That Shift Fees To Unsuccessful Plaintiffs In Intra-Corporate Litigation

On May 8, 2014, the Delaware Supreme Court held that, under Delaware law, fee-shifting provisions in non-stock corporations’ bylaws can be valid and enforceable (“facially valid”) and may be enforced if not adopted or...more

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