Asked in Contracts and Collections for California

Q: In CA, can an accountant whose trial report was never used, put a lien on settlement $, on case settled before trial?

We settled before the trial, I was the plaintiff. and proceeds won't be available for 6 weeks...The fee for the accountant's expert damages report (that was never used anywhere), is over twice what it would normally cost. He wants to put a lien on the settlement proceeds...can he do that, like a lawyer would file a charging lien ?

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, an accountant generally cannot put a lien on a settlement unless they have a written agreement with the client that provides for a lien or they obtain a court order granting them the right to do so. This means that if there is no written agreement between you and the accountant that specifically provides for a lien on the settlement proceeds, and the accountant has not obtained a court order, then they cannot legally put a lien on the settlement proceeds.

It's also worth noting that the amount of the accountant's fee must be reasonable and commensurate with the work performed. If the fee for the expert damages report is significantly higher than what is reasonable, you may be able to challenge the fee.

If you have concerns about the accountant's actions, you may want to consider seeking the advice of an attorney who can advise you on your rights and options.

Leon Bayer agrees with this answer

Leon Bayer
Leon Bayer
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You could have your lawyer talk to the expert and see if he will moderate his charges. I also suggest you look at his retainer agreement and see what you committed yourself to.

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