An accounting firm requested the payment of invoices by its client in the arbitration procedure administered by the Order of Chartered Accountants. The arbitral tribunal ordered the client to pay less than half the amount sought. The firm turned to its representative in the proceedings, criticising the conduct and conditions of the arbitration proceedings. In particular, the lawyer did not inform its client in time of the possibility of paying the defendants’ part of arbitration fees, which prevented the arbitration from proceeding. The arbitrator meanwhile seized the judge of interim relief to request fee payment from the defendants.
The Court found that the lawyer cannot be held responsible for the conduct of the arbitrator, even taking into account the information his client’s late payment of fees. However, the lawyer did not duly request the extension of the time limit for rendering the award, which caused the second arbitrator’s divestment. Nevertheless, the firm had been previously compensated for this loss in proceedings against the arbitrators and the Order of Chartered Accountants. On the other hand, it neither follows from the award that the lawyer was at the origin of the rejection of the claim for damages of the proceedings. Finally, the Court rules that it is not the common law judge which is competent over determination of the quantum of the lawyer’s fees but the French “fees” judge.