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Is Your Costa Rican Lawyer Overcharging You?

Is Your Costa Rican Lawyer Overcharging You?

One of the complaints we often get are about Costa Rican lawyers is how much they charge. But did you know that there is a schedule of fees for legal and notary services as a matter of law?

Minimum fees (honorarios mínimos) for most common legal and notary services are set by the Colegio de Abogados and the Dirección Nacional de Notariado, the professional associations for each in Costa Rica.

The current rates were set in Executive Decree No. 41457-JP, published in La Gaceta on February 1, 2019. You can read the decree in its entirety by clicking here (in Spanish).

Remember, these are the minimum rates that a lawyer / notary public should charge for these services. Lawyers and notaries can, and often will, charge more.

It’s good to know the reference values to see if your lawyer is overcharging you for the same service that another, equally competent and professional lawyer would charge less for.

Here’s a sample for some common legal and notary services:

  • Standard hourly rate: $180
  • Certification of signature: $36
  • Certified copy of a document: $36
  • Celebrating a civil marriage: $240
  • Divorce by mutual consent (without alimony or child support etc):  $240
  • Forming a standard company: $360
  • Simple modifications to a company: $180
  • Constitute a mortgage for $100,000: $1485
  • Pay off / cancel a $100,000 mortgage: $742
  • Foreclose on a $100,000 mortgage: $9266
  • Transfer of a title of a car worth $20,000: $452
  • Transfer of a real estate property worth $200,000: $2614 

Calculated at 570 Costa Rican colones to US dollar as of this writing. Includes the 13% IVA charged on all legal services.

Note that these are ONLY the legal fees for these procedures. Government fees (such as timbres) and taxes (such as transfer tax) will apply separately. Also, if the legal process in question becomes more complex, there can be additional legal fees assessed.

So, is your lawyer overcharging you? At Grupo Gap we can offer you assistance and referrals to legal professionals in Costa Rica. Contact us now to set up a consultation!

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