Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 39. Attorneys

Article 5. Fees.

§ 54.1-3932. Lien for fees.

A. Any person having or claiming a cause of action (i) sounding in tort, (ii) for liquidated or unliquidated damages on contract, or (iii) for annulment or divorce may contract with any attorney to prosecute the same, and, upon contracting such attorney, the attorney shall have a lien upon the cause of action as security for his fees for any services rendered in relation to the cause of action or claim. When any such contract is made, and written notice of the claim of such lien is given to the client or former client, the opposite party or such party's attorney or agent, and the clerk of court in which a case may be pending, any settlement or adjustment of the cause of action is void against the lien so created, except as proof of liability on such cause of action. Written notice of the lien shall be given either within 45 days of the end of representation or (a) in causes of action sounding in tort or for liquidated or unliquidated damages on contract, before settlement or adjustment, whichever is earlier or (b) in cases of annulment or divorce, before final judgment is entered, whichever is earlier. Nothing in this section affects the existing law in respect to champertous contracts. In causes of action for annulment or divorce, the court may not determine the validity or amount of the lien until the divorce judgment is final and all residual disputes regarding marital property are concluded. Nothing in this section affects the existing law in respect to exemptions from creditor process under federal or state law.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions in subsection A, a court in a case of annulment or divorce may, in its discretion, exclude spousal support and child support from the scope of the attorney's lien.

C. The validity and amount of the lien may be determined either by motion in the case in which the lien is claimed, or by separate action after final judgment has been entered therein or if no case has been filed. The validity and amount of the lien shall be determined by the court without a jury.

Code 1950, § 54-70; 1988, c. 765; 2001, c. 495; 2023, c. 234.

§ 54.1-3933. Decreeing fee out of funds under control of court.

No court shall decree or order any fee or compensation to counsel to be paid out of money or property under the control of the court, unless the claim is in the complaint, petition, or other proceeding, of which the parties interested have due notice.

Code 1950, § 54-71; 1988, c. 765; 2020, c. 112.