English rule (attorney's fees)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from English rule (legal term))
Jump to: navigation, search

In the field of law and economics, the English rule (capitalized as English Rule in some jurisdictions) is a rule controlling assessment of attorneys' fees arising out of litigation. The English rule provides that the party who loses in court pays the other party's attorney's fees. The English rule contrasts with the American rule, under which each party is generally responsible to pay its own attorneys' fees, unless a statute or contract provides for that assessment. The rationale for the English rule is that a litigant (whether bringing a claim or defending a claim) is entitled to legal representation and, if successful, should not be left out of pocket by reason of his own legal fees. It should be borne in mind that in virtually all English civil litigation damages are merely compensatory.

Nearly every Western democracy, other than the United States, follows the English rule.[1] [2] See also Costs (English law).

United States jurisdictions[edit]

In the United States the "American rule" is generally followed, each party bearing its own expense of litigation. Adaption of the English rule as an aspect of tort reform was considered in Texas during the 2011 legislative session. Texas governor Rick Perry called in his state of the state address for a one-way version of the English rule which would apply only to those who initiate a suit, the plaintiff.[3]

A cost- and fee-shifting bill related to patent lawsuits (H.R. 6245), titled the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2012 (i.e., SHIELD Act) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in August 2012, but had not passed as of February 2013.[4] This bill, if passed into law, will shift costs and fees to plaintiffs in computer-related patent lawsuits that are not reasonably likely of succeeding when filed.


  1. ^ "Loser Pays" Walter Olson, pointoflaw.com, accessed March 10, 2011
  2. ^ Capisio, Mary V. (2002). Awards of Attorneys Fees by Federal Courts, Federal Agencies and Selected Foreign Countries. Nova Publishers. 
  3. ^ Smith, Morgan (March 10, 2011). "Texas May Consider a Bill Forcing Losers in a Suit to Pay Opponents’ Legal Fees". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Bill Text H.R. 6245". The Library of Congress - THOMAS. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  • Black's Law Dictionary (8th Ed. 2004).

External links[edit]