Friday, December 10, 2004

The joy of contingency fees.

How's $586,000 for writing a letter? Reportedly enough to make the next edition of the Guiness Book of Records.
Juergen Graefe is a local lawyer in Germany who has just broken the world record for an hourly wage, after he accidentally earned over £300,000 ($586,000 US) for less than an hour's work.

An elderly client of Juergen's had made a mistake on a tax form, estimating his income at 11,000 Euros, then correcting it to 17,000 Euros. In the best traditions of bureaucracy though, the tax office interpreted it without questioning as 1,100,017,000 Euros, and the pensioner was duly summonsed for 287 million Euros in unpaid tax. Juergen wrote the court a simple letter explaining the mistake, and the matter was resolved.

However under German law, the lawyer gets a cut of any amount saved for a client, so the court ruled that the taxman should foot the bill for Juergen's legal fee of 440,000 Euros. [Worksmart]
I am so jealous.