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Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

Old Feb 21st 2024, 8:55 am
  #1  
riv
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Default Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

I suspect this will be an unusual request for information, esp. as I agree I am partially at fault in the situation. ( Though I think the fault is moral rather than legal, but I may be wrong here...Please read on.)

The situation is this : I first put my house up for sale nine months ago.
At the time I expected to engage my regular Advogada to carry out the conveyancing work when a sale would be agreed. This is the Advogada who acted for me in the purchase five years ago, and who since that date has retained the legal Documentation related to the purchase / the house in her office. [ She has never requested a fee for the service of document storage.]

She proposed her usual Fee of 1% of the sale price eventually agreed.
I agreed to her Fee ( as I say, this was about May last year ).
At this stage I did ask her to review the contract proposed by the Agente Imobiliária, which she did, finding nothing untoward.

At the time both I and the Agente Imobiliária expected to find a buyer during the summer months.

Instead that never happened, despite some price reductions. If a buyer had been found, and at the original, perhaps ambitious, price, I would not be writing this request for thoughts, as it would all have gone through as originally planned.

Meanwhile, completely separate from this proposed sale transaction, I purchased a small flat. This took place without any involvement ( or even knowledge ) of the regular Advogada. I had been advised that I did not really need an advogado/a as I understood written Portuguese, and anyway the Contract for sale was in both languages.

Fast forward to about five or six weeks ago and a buyer had emerged for my house for sale.
With a little back and forth, and the assistance of my, and the purchasers' Agente Imobiliária, we agreed a purchase / sale price. Approx 80 grand lower than the original asking price.

So far so no involvement of my original Advogada.

My Agente Imobiliária advised me that, whilst it was a matter entirely for me, her view was that as I understood Portuguese I did not really need an advogado in the process : the purchasers' advogado was drawing up the Contract, arranging for the Notário / Registo etc.., and that she ( the Agente ) would sort out the transfer of utilities etc. on the due date.
Also, as I could be present at the Assinatura of the initial stage ( CPCV ) I did not need procuração for the Advogada to sign on my behalf.

The Agente stated that she needed certain Documentation which was that then stored at the Advogada's office.
I emailed the Advogada requesting her to hand that Documentation to the Agente at a convenient time, which handover was done promptly, and without any prevarication.

At that stage ( still prior to the signing of the CPCV ) the Advogada emailed me to ask if I needed her to sign the CPCV on my behalf. ( No mention was made of conveyancing work, just the signing thing, if I was to be absent from Portugal .) The Agente Imobiliária has told me that she was asked the same question in the office and replied that she thought not, but was not sure.


I was in something of two minds about this, and because of my uncertainty I did not reply,

I should have at least sent a holding reply, but anyway, through inertia I ended up signing the Assinatura CPCV on my own behalf a few weeks ago. This was in the office of the Purchasers' Advogado ( the latter signing on their behalf, they being absent. )

I also agreed a date for the final Escritura signing during March.

My moral failing ( I feel ) was that I did not email the Advogada to inform her that I had decided ( sort of via a process of osmosis ) not to make use of her services for the Conveyance of the house. Nor for the signing of the CPCV or the Escritura.

[ As it happens I had every intention of engaging the Advogada in the drawing up of a , somewhat complicated, Will, so I had every reason to wish to remain on good terms with her.]

I was shocked to receive, just a couple of days ago, an angrily worded email from the Advogada demanding immediate payment of her fees, ( based on the 1% of the sale price, which latter she had ascertained from the Agente when the latter visited her to pick up the dox ).

Inter alia the Advogada claimed ' it is not because you are signing the documents on your own behalf that you will escape payment of the Fees already agreed between us ' And she made reference to the storage of the Documentation over several years ( true) , plus the fact ( true ) that she had advised re the terms of the Agente Imobiliária 's contract.

I replied stating that whilst it is true that I had agreed to her Fees last year, that was an agreement in principle, in the event that she, the Advogada, would be performing the duties involved in the processing the Conveyance.
But that as I had not, in the event, given her specific instructions to act as my Conveyancer then it seemed to me that no Fees were due.
I asked her to state what specific work or duties she had performed in respect of which the Fees should be paid.
The reply did not list any such work done, save to refer again to the storage of house Documentation and the advice re the Agente Imobiliária's contract nine months ago.
She threatens immediate legal action in the courts if the 'Fee' is not paid by the end of this month.

So the situation as I see it is that the Adv. has not, in fact, done any work whatever related to the Conveyance of the house from me to the Purchasers. But she is demanding payment exactly as if she had done such conveyancing work.

My failing, as I acknowledge, is that I did not specifically advise her a month ago, as I should have, that I had decided to proceed without any Advogado / a in the process.
But this failing has not caused her to do any actual work regarding the Conveyance.

I am quite certain that in English law of contract no Fee would be due ( albeit some , much more modest, Fee might be due for the storage of Documentation and the half hour's work of reading the Agente's standard contract ).

But I have no certainty that Portuguese law would give the same answer.

Does anyone here have any thoughts as to how this can be resolved, other than just paying this very large ( over two and a half grand ) Fee for work not, in fact, done ?

Is there any process for involving the Ordem dos Advogados to complain about her threatening email ?

Does anyone have any experience in similar matters ?
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Old Feb 21st 2024, 4:43 pm
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Default Re: Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

Havenet been in that situation but can see how it can happen.
My opinion for what its worth, she is trying it on.
Ask her for her fees for holding documents and advising you ref contract.
That is what you have appeared to ask for and only those.
Finally ask her on what grounds she would take you to court?
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Old Mar 4th 2024, 10:49 pm
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Default Re: Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

I did ask her what, specifically was the work done for which she was claiming the Fees.

No reply to that question, just a repetition of the claim, insisting that there will be legal action if the whole sum is not forthcoming.

I have discovered that there exists a branch of the Ordem dos Advogados which entertains complaints against Advogados.

I have written to them but so far no reply.

Other than that avenue is there any other Complaint mechanism I wonder ?
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Old Mar 5th 2024, 9:27 am
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Default Re: Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

Does the Advogados have a complaint book/procedure?
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Old Mar 5th 2024, 5:01 pm
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Default Re: Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

I would advise getting advice from another lawyer.
If you signed an agreement to pay the commision, you'll probably have to pay.
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Old Mar 5th 2024, 8:53 pm
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Default Re: Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

Originally Posted by liveaboard
I would advise getting advice from another lawyer.
If you signed an agreement to pay the commision, you'll probably have to pay.
I'd agree. Contract law in Portugal is not always logical...... you could be sued for a loss of potential earnings.
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Old Mar 7th 2024, 8:16 am
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Default Re: Advogado demanding payment for work not done ~ Thoughts ?

I did ask another advogado ( the one representing the purchasers of the house ) and his opinion was that it was v.unlikely that she would bring court action.
I understood him to be saying that she didn't have much of a case, apart from a modest fee for the half hour's work looking over the mediation contract proposed by the Agente Imobilia'ria ( which of course I would be happy to pay ).
He also stated that there was a rule regarding Fees viz that these should NOT be charged on a percentage basis of anything, but rather as a specific fee for specific work done. This is for Advogados ( possibly Solicitadores have a different rule ).

He said to await the opinion of the Conselho de Deontologia of the Ordem dos Advogados ( whom I have already written to - so far they have not even acknowledged the Complaint ).
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