24.5.343    ATTORNEY FEES

(1) In those cases where the claimant is awarded attorney fees pursuant to 39-71-611 or 39-71-612, MCA, the court will indicate in its findings of fact and conclusions of law the basis for the award of reasonable attorney fees, but the court will not determine the amount of the award until after the appeal period for its final decision has passed or after affirmation of its final decision on appeal, unless pursuant to ARM 24.5.348(2), the final decision is not certified as final.

(2) The court determines and awards reasonable attorney fees in the following manner.

(a) Within the time set forth in ARM 24.5.320, following the expiration of the appeal period or remittitur on appeal of the court's final decision, or within the time set forth in ARM 24.5.320, after the filing of the court's decision which pursuant to ARM 24.5.348(2) holds that the decision is not certified as final, the claimant's attorney shall file with the court a claim for attorney fees which contains the following:

(i) a verified copy of the attorney fee agreement with the claimant;

(ii) documentation regarding the time spent by the attorney in representing the client; and

(iii) the attorney's claim concerning the attorney's hourly fee.

(b) Within the time set forth in ARM 24.5.320, following the service of a claim for attorney fees, any party to the dispute may file an objection to the fees' reasonableness, specifically identifying the objectionable portions of the claim and stating the reasons for the objection. General allegations to the effect that the award is unreasonable are not sufficient.

(c) If a party objects to the reasonableness of the attorney fee claim, any party may request an evidentiary hearing, stating the specific reasons a hearing is necessary. The request for hearing must be made at the same time an objection is filed if by the objecting party, or within the time set forth in ARM 24.5.320, of the filing of the objection if requested by the claimant's attorney.

(d) The court determines if it requires an evidentiary hearing. If the court deems a hearing necessary, the court schedules the hearing at its earliest convenience. The court issues its decision following the hearing. The court sets evidentiary hearings in Helena unless a party demonstrates good cause to the contrary. If the court determines that no hearing is necessary, the court determines attorney fees based on the claim and objections. No additional pleadings are allowed unless requested by the court.

(e) The court's determination of reasonable attorney fees is a final decision for purposes of appeal.

History: 2-4-201, MCA; IMP, 2-4-201, 39-71-2901, MCA; NEW, 1985 MAR p. 107, Eff. 2/1/85; AMD, 1986 MAR p. 774, Eff. 5/16/86; TRANS, from ARM 2.52.343, 1989 MAR p. 2177, Eff. 12/22/89; AMD, 1990 MAR p. 847, Eff. 5/1/90; AMD, 1992 MAR p. 922, Eff. 5/1/92; AMD, 1994 MAR p. 27, Eff. 1/14/94; AMD, 1996 MAR p. 557, Eff. 2/23/96; AMD, 2014 MAR p. 2829, Eff. 3/1/15.