REFERENCE TITLE: attorney fees; recovery; civil actions.





State of Arizona


Fiftieth Legislature

First Regular Session




SB 1544


Introduced by

Senator Melvin





amending section 12-341.01, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to the recovery of attorney fees.





Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1.  Section 12-341.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE12-341.01.  Recovery of attorney fees

A.  In any contested civil action arising out of a contract, express or implied, the court may award the successful party reasonable attorney fees. If a written settlement offer is rejected and the judgment finally obtained is equal to or more favorable to the offeror than an offer made in writing to settle any contested civil action arising out of a contract, the offeror is deemed to be the successful party from the date of the offer and the court may award the successful party reasonable attorney fees.  This section shall in no manner not be construed as altering, prohibiting or restricting present or future contracts or statutes that may provide for attorney fees.  Except as otherwise provided by law, in any action to enforce or challenge a provision of law, a regulation or an ordinance, this state or a city, town or county of this state may not be awarded attorney fees pursuant to this subsection.

B.  The award of reasonable attorney fees pursuant to subsection A should be made to mitigate the burden of the expense of litigation to establish a just claim or a just defense.  It need not equal or relate to the attorney fees actually paid or contracted, but the award may not exceed the amount paid or agreed to be paid.

C.  The court shall award reasonable attorney fees in any contested action upon on clear and convincing evidence that the claim or defense constitutes harassment, is groundless and is not made in good faith.  In making the award, the court may consider any evidence it deems appropriate and shall receive this evidence during a trial on the merits of the cause, or separately, regarding the amount of fees it deems in the best interest of the litigating parties.

D.  The court and not a jury shall award reasonable attorney fees under this section. END_STATUTE

Sec. 2.  Applicability

This act applies only to actions that are commenced on or after the effective date of this act.