Commercial Division Blog

Posted: December 8, 2015 / Categories Commercial, Law Firms and Professional Ethics

Law Firm With Retaining Lien Was Entitled to Payment Before Having to Turn Over File

On December 1, 2015, the First Department issued a decision in American Stevedoring, Inc. v. Red Hook Container Terminal, LLC, 2015 NY Slip Op. 08791, holding that a law firm with a retaining lien was entitled to payment before turning over its files, explaining:

The court erred in requiring [the attorney] to turn over its litigation file, on which [it] had a retaining lien, without first ensuring that payment for [its] legal services was made or secured, and in the absence of any waiver or exigent circumstances. The court also erred in not directing plaintiff, as the former client, to bear the costs of reproduction and delivery of the file.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis added).