As a matter of general knowledge worldwide, the concept of the
attorney fee represents the fee terms agreed between attorney and
client for the legal services the attorney renders to the client.
However, a different attorney fee regulated under the Turkish
Attorneyship Law and bearing features of a litigation cost is a new
concept for many foreign clients, and causes confusion in
The Attorneyship Law regulates two different types of attorney
fees. The first is the fee the client and attorney agree on by and
between themselves for the legal services rendered by the attorney.
The second attorney fee is a litigation cost, incurred by the
losing party and paid to the other party at the end of a legal
proceeding, as regulated under the Attorneyship Law as well as the
relevant provisions of the Civil Procedural Law.
The second type of attorney fee, which is a litigation cost, is
totally independent of any other fee terms agreed by the client and
its attorney to provide legal services. The courts grant attorney
fees ex officio, together with other court expenses. The
courts determine the amount of legal fees according to the Minimum
Fee Tariff for Attorneys. The Tariff sets forth different amounts
in consideration of the characteristics of the dispute, as well as
the scope of legal services in question. The Attorneyship Law
limits the courts' discretion to order payment of attorney
fees, requiring them to award up to only two or three multiples of
the minimum tariff.
Article 164(5) of the Attorneyship Law governs the issue of
attorney fees granted by a court decision:
The attorney fee to be charged to the opposing party by an
order based on the tariff at the end of the lawsuit belongs to the
attorney. Such fee cannot be set off or netted due to any debt of
the client, nor can it be attached.
Based on the above article, the general principle is that
attorney fees belong to the attorney. However, in practice, because
attorneys are not the principal parties to a lawsuit, the court
renders its decision in respect of the parties to the lawsuit, not
the attorneys. In this respect, even though the above-mentioned
provision under the Attorneyship Law explicitly stipulates that the
attorney fee belongs to the attorney and cannot be set off or
netted due to any debt of the client, the wording in the
courts' decisions causes confusion and raises the question of
whether the attorney fee granted by a court decision may belong to
It is widely accepted in the Court of Appeals' precedents
that courts grant attorney fees to the party that is successful in
the lawsuit; not the attorney himself/herself. After all, Article
164 of the Attorneyship Law regulates the internal relationship
between the attorney and his/her principal. Subsequent to the
losing party's payment of the granted attorney fees, the
principal is then obliged to pay the attorney fee within a
reasonable time period to the attorney.
There are, however, certain exceptions to the general principle
discussed above. In a Court of Appeals decision dated 14 July 2005,
it was held that due to the principle of freedom of contract, the
attorney and the client may determine that the attorney fees
granted by the court will fully or partially belong to the client.
In this respect, the principle set forth under Article 164/5 is not
a mandatory provision, and the attorney and the client can agree
otherwise. However, in practice the attorney and the client do not
make such agreement, and since the attorney fee granted by the
court belongs to the attorney, the attorney personally pursues
required legal proceedings for collection of his/her attorney
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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