2021 Georgia Code
Title 9 - Civil Practice
Chapter 15 - Court and Litigation Costs
§ 9-15-14. Litigation Costs and Attorney's Fees Assessed for Frivolous Actions and Defenses

Universal Citation: GA Code § 9-15-14 (2021)
  1. In any civil action in any court of record of this state, reasonable and necessary attorney's fees and expenses of litigation shall be awarded to any party against whom another party has asserted a claim, defense, or other position with respect to which there existed such a complete absence of any justiciable issue of law or fact that it could not be reasonably believed that a court would accept the asserted claim, defense, or other position. Attorney's fees and expenses so awarded shall be assessed against the party asserting such claim, defense, or other position, or against that party's attorney, or against both in such manner as is just.
  2. The court may assess reasonable and necessary attorney's fees and expenses of litigation in any civil action in any court of record if, upon the motion of any party or the court itself, it finds that an attorney or party brought or defended an action, or any part thereof, that lacked substantial justification or that the action, or any part thereof, was interposed for delay or harassment, or if it finds that an attorney or party unnecessarily expanded the proceeding by other improper conduct, including, but not limited to, abuses of discovery procedures available under Chapter 11 of this title, the "Georgia Civil Practice Act." As used in this Code section, "lacked substantial justification" means substantially frivolous, substantially groundless, or substantially vexatious.
  3. No attorney or party shall be assessed attorney's fees as to any claim or defense which the court determines was asserted by said attorney or party in a good faith attempt to establish a new theory of law in Georgia if such new theory of law is based on some recognized precedential or persuasive authority.
  4. Attorney's fees and expenses of litigation awarded under this Code section shall not exceed amounts which are reasonable and necessary for defending or asserting the rights of a party. Attorney's fees and expenses of litigation incurred in obtaining an order of court pursuant to this Code section may also be assessed by the court and included in its order.
  5. Attorney's fees and expenses under this Code section may be requested by motion at any time during the course of the action but not later than 45 days after the final disposition of the action.
  6. An award of reasonable and necessary attorney's fees or expenses of litigation under this Code section shall be determined by the court without a jury and shall be made by an order of court which shall constitute and be enforceable as a money judgment.
  7. Attorney's fees and expenses of litigation awarded under this Code section in a prior action between the same parties shall be treated as court costs with regard to the filing of any subsequent action.
  8. This Code section shall not apply to proceedings in magistrate courts. However, when a case is appealed from the magistrate court, the appellee may seek litigation expenses incurred below if the appeal lacks substantial justification.

(Code 1981, §9-15-14, enacted by Ga. L. 1986, p. 1591, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 397, § 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 437, § 1; Ga. L. 1994, p. 856, § 2; Ga. L. 1997, p. 689, § 1; Ga. L. 2001, p. 967, § 1.)

Cross references.

- Duty of lawyer to client, Rules and Regulations for the Organization and Government of the State Bar of Georgia, EC 7-4.

Law reviews.

- For annual survey of law of torts, see 38 Mercer L. Rev. 351 (1986). For annual survey of trial practice and procedure, see 38 Mercer L. Rev. 383 (1986). For article, "On with the Old!," see 24 Ga. St. B.J. 13 (1987). For article, "The Civil Jurisdiction of State and Magistrate Courts," see 24 Ga. St. B.J. 29 (1987). For article, "Nonjudicial Foreclosures in Georgia Revisited," see 24 Ga. St. B.J. 43 (1987). For article, "The Torok Tort: Recovery for Abusive Litigation," see 23 Ga. St. B.J. 84 (1987). For article, "Litigators on Trial: Professionalism Implications of Yost v. Torok," see 23 Ga. St. B.J. 88 (1987). For article, "Battling the Many-Headed Hydra: Abusive Litigation Law in Georgia," see 25 Ga. St. B.J. 65 (1988). For article, "Yost v. Torok: Taking Legal Ethics Seriously," see 4 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 23 (1988). For article, "Setting the Fee When the Client Discharges a Contingent Fee Attorney," see 41 Emory L.J. 367 (1992). For annual survey on legal ethics, see 44 Mercer L. Rev. 281 (1992). For article commenting on the 1997 amendment of this Code section, see 14 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 1 (1997). For annual survey article on real property law, see 50 Mercer L. Rev. 307 (1998). For survey article on domestic relations cases for the period from June 1, 2002, through May 31, 2003, see 55 Mercer L. Rev. 223 (2003). For annual survey of construction law, see 56 Mercer L. Rev. 109 (2004). For annual survey of domestic relations law, see 56 Mercer L. Rev. 221 (2004). For annual survey of domestic relations law, see 58 Mercer L. Rev. 133 (2006). For article, "Of Frivolous Litigation and Runaway Juries: A View from the Bench," see 41 Ga. L. Rev. 431 (2007). For survey article on trial practice and procedure, see 59 Mercer L. Rev. 423 (2007). For survey article on trial practice and procedure, see 60 Mercer L. Rev. 397 (2008). For annual survey on appellate practice and procedure, see 61 Mercer L. Rev. 31 (2009). For annual survey on trial practice and procedure, see 61 Mercer L. Rev. 363 (2009). For annual survey of law on trial practice and procedure, see 62 Mercer L. Rev. 339 (2010). For annual survey on domestic relations law, see 64 Mercer L. Rev. 121 (2012). For annual survey on legal ethics, see 64 Mercer L. Rev. 189 (2012). For annual survey on trial practice and procedure, see 64 Mercer L. Rev. 305 (2012). For article, "Division of Labor: The Modernization of the Supreme Court of Georgia and Concomitant Workload Reduction Measures in the Court of Appeals," see 30 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 925 (2014). For article on domestic relations, see 66 Mercer L. Rev. 65 (2014). For annual survey on trial practice and procedure, see 67 Mercer L. Rev. 257 (2015). For annual survey on domestic relations, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 83 (2017). For annual survey on legal ethics, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 157 (2017). For annual survey on local government law, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 205 (2017). For annual survey on real property, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 251 (2017). For article, "A Constitutional Counterpunch to Georgia's Anti-SLAPP Statute," see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 407 (2019). For annual survey on domestic relations, see 71 Mercer L. Rev. 83 (2019). For note, "Abusive Litigation in Georgia: Deterrence and Compensation," see 3 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 303 (1987). For case comment, "Yost v. Torok and Abusive Litigation: A New Tort to Solve an Old Problem," see 21 Ga. L. Rev. 429 (1986).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

ANALYSIS

  • General Consideration
  • Procedure
  • Application
  • Appeals

RESEARCH REFERENCES

ALR.

- Attorney's fees: obduracy as basis for state-court award, 49 A.L.R.4th 825.

Attorneys' fees: cost of services provided by paralegals or the like as compensable element of award in state court, 73 A.L.R.4th 938.

Validity, construction, and application of state vexatious litigant statutes, 45 A.L.R.6th 493.

Application of Anti-SLAPP ("Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation") statutes to real estate development, land use, and zoning disputes, 64 A.L.R.6th 365.

Application of anti-SLAPP ("Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation") statutes to invasion of privacy claim, 85 A.L.R.6th 475.

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