If the lawyer asks you for a payment or an advance: how to behave

" If I tell you lawyer , what do you think? "When we talk about lawyers, the first approach is almost always the word" parcella ". And this is true on the one hand (that of the client, who inevitably feels miserable) and on the other (that of the professional who, in turn, believes he is never honored sufficiently or correctly and respectfully). So, given that the subject is particularly sensitive to both parties, even the new code of professional ethics [1]is concerned with regulating, in a specific article [2] , requests for paymentof the lawyer. Obviously these are precepts – those here in comment – which aim primarily to preserve the decorum of the professional image, beyond the civil implications that could have, on the one hand, the lack of or negligent execution of the mandate; on the other hand, the delinquency in payment of what was originally agreed. For these last two situations there are in fact the remedies of the civil court classrooms, with the actions of professional responsibility and credit recovery . Instead, as regards the deontological profiles, there is the Council of the Order of belonging that has the competence to decide and, eventually, to impose sanctions.

Expenses advances

The code of ethics clarifies the right of every lawyer, during the professional relationship, to request the payment of advances on expenses provided they are matched to what is actually anticipated or to be sustained. The trader then commits an illegal deontological professional who chooses the request for sums which are instead forfeited as mere payments.

Advances on compensation

The lawyer can also ask for advances on the fee , provided they are commensurate with the quantity and complexity of the services required for the completion of their duties.

Internal accounting

Without prejudice to the obligation to invoice according to tax provisions, the lawyer must keep an orderly statement of the expenses incurred and of the advances received . To this end, he must always draw up a detailed note of the amount collected by the customer and deliver it to him at his request and without delay.


The lawyer must issue the prescribed tax document for each payment received. Therefore also for advances on exempt expenses and advances related to the final payment.


The lawyer must not request fees or advances that are manifestly disproportionate to the activity performed or to be performed.

If the customer does not pay

If the customer does not pay the amounts initially agreed, the lawyer can not request a fee higher than the one already indicated, unless he has reserved it in the initial mandate. Aggravi economic, with "afflictive" purposes, are prohibited by deontology.

If the lawyer has collected and holds money on behalf of his client, he can not subordinate the delivery of the same to the payment of his fee. The two services remain independent and, therefore, the obligation of immediate payment to the part of the amounts recovered in its favor, the trader will then separately have to act for his credit.

Likewise, the lawyer can not subordinate the execution of his professional duties to the recognition of the right to retain part of the sums collected on behalf of the client or the assisted party.

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