Fairness In Fees Limited lodged a Complaint with the European Commission on 24th February 2016 challenging minimum fees charged by lawyers in Cyprus. Lawyers acting for Fairness in Fees Limited in the Complaint are represented by Hugh Barrett, Consulting Partner at BPE Solicitors. Counsel is Mr Robert O’Donoghue of Brick Court Chambers. He has an extensive reputation and expertise in EU competition law. His background and details can be found at:


Counsel’s view is that minimum fee practices are in clear breach of the price fixing and cartel provisions of Article 101 of the European Treaty and are therefore unlawful in European law. They create a serious distortion of competition in the legal market by setting a ‘floor’. Minimum fees set by professional regulators in Europe have been found to violate Article 101(1) by the Commission, the European Court of Justice and national competition authorities.

Counsel is extremely confident in his analysis and advised that as a result of the unlawfulness of the CBA imposition of minimum fees:

  • Fees which are calculated under the Minimum Fee Regulations would be null and void. The Cyprus Bar Association risks being fined 10% of its annual income by the European Commission for price fixing. Individual lawyers and legal practices could be similarly fined.

  • Members of the public could bring actions for recovery of overpaid fees against lawyers who have overcharged them. The consequences of a favourable decision by the European Commission on the Complaint can be very significant. A claimant can claim overcharged fees and costs from the CBA or any lawyer member of the CBA. Claims can relate to historic overcharged fees.

It is legally difficult to challenge the practice of charging minimum legal fees from within Cyprus because of local legislation passed – the Minimum Fee Limits of Practising Lawyers (Out-of-Court Cases) Regulations 1985. Fairness In Fees has experience in doing so. The Cyprus Bar Association (CBA) enacted this legislation in its own rules requiring its lawyer members to comply with it.

Cyprus is a member state of the European Union. It must therefore comply with European legislation. The Commission’s decision is now awaited with great interest.