Informations and abstract
Keywords: competition law, lawyers, minimum fee schedules, K21, K23.
This article aims at summarizing the long debated issue of minimum fee schedules for lawyers. This controversial matter has been fiercely argued in recent years between those who believe that fixed prices pursue only the economic interest of lawyers and those who think that mandatory schedules may help assuring a minimum degree of quality. Fixed prices were a linchpin factor of the old regulatory framework of the legal profession enacted during the fascist regime. Since then, many political, economic and social changes have occurred in over 80 years of Italian history, including the strong liberalization brought about by European institutions namely in the area of competition law and the implementation of the single market. That is why minimum fee schedules have been repealed in 2006, although today a recent bill provides for their restoration. The proposal is however highly questionable given the large imperfections of the market of lawyers, the credence nature of legal services, the strong presence of mechanisms of adverse selection and moral hazard. It would thus be preferable to link legal fees to capacity, endeavour and the beneficial effects of lawyers' work on client expectations.