The purpose of the Board is to establish procedures whereby a dispute concerning fees, costs or disbursements between a client and an attorney who is a member of the South Carolina Bar (the Bar) may be resolved expeditiously, fairly and professionally, thereby furthering the administration of justice, encouraging the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct, assisting in upholding the integrity and honor of the legal profession, and applying the knowledge, experience and ability of the legal profession to the promotion of the public good. As used in these Rules, "fee" is deemed to include a legal fee, costs of litigation and disbursements associated with a legal cause, claim or matter and "client" is defined as a person on whose behalf professional legal services have been rendered by an attorney who is a member of the South Carolina Bar. A dispute exists when the parties to an employment agreement between lawyer and client have a genuine difference as to the fair and proper amount of a fee. The amount in dispute, as used in these Rules, is the dollar amount of that difference. A dispute does not exist solely because of the failure of the client to pay a fee.
Under no circumstances will the Board participate in: (1) a fee dispute involving an amount in dispute of $50,000 or more; (2) disputes over fees which by law must be determined or approved, as between lawyer and client, by a court, commission, judge, or other tribunal. When an allegation of attorney misconduct arises out of a fee dispute other than as to the reasonableness of the fee, the Board, in its discretion, may refer the matter to the Commission on Lawyer Conduct. If the alleged misconduct does not arise out of a fee dispute, it shall be referred to the Commission on Lawyer Conduct.
If an attorney is suspended from the practice of law after a fee dispute has been filed with the Board, the Board shall retain jurisdiction over the dispute until the conclusion of the fee dispute process. This shall include all applicable appeals under Rule 20.
No fee dispute may be filed with the Board more than three (3) years after the dispute arose.
Jurisdictional issues shall be determined by the circuit chair.
Last Amended by Order dated December 6, 2011.