I have a loan contract with a business partner in which I lent him money. the contract has a provision for attorney fees which states only "lender has the right to seek attorney fees to enforce the contract." I am the lender. I sued the business partner and he demurrerd (?) seeking attorney fees under civil code 1717(a). Can he do that when the contract only states "lender" can seek attorney fees?
California has a "reciprocal" attorney fee provision. If attorney fees are allowed to one party they are allowed to the prevailing party, whoever that may be.
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Yes, the courts have found that one-sided attorney fee provisions violate public policy. In spite of the language, each side may claim to fees. Well, actually only the prevailing party (winner) does.
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Attorneys Fees provisions contained in written contracts are deemed reciprocal whether or not the contract specifically states they are. If one party to the contract has the right to seek attorneys fees, California law provides the other party to the contract automatically has the same rights.
Its unanimous, if attorney's fees are able to be recovered by the prevailing party despite the written contract. This has to due with "public policy".... that is to say "fairness in society".
Having said that, you probably already appreciate the fact that despite who may win at trial, there is always the appeals process which in turn obviously raise costs and fees.
You need an attorney. Wouldn't be wise to try to deal with this on your own.
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