Legal Memorandum: Attorneys' Fees in Contract or Lease Actions

Issue: Under Washington law, when is a party permitted to recover attorney’s fees in a contract or lease action or an action involving a Home Owners’ Association (HOA)?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts, Litigation & Procedure, Real Estate Law
Keywords: Award of attorneys' fees; Contract or lease; Home Owners' Association (HOA)
Jurisdiction: Washington
Cited Cases: 804 P.2d 1263; 165 Wn. 2d 481; 200 P.3d 683; 578 P.2d 1292; 96 Wn. App. 355; 484 P.2d 1152; 979 P.2d 890; 4 Wn. App. 809; 90 Wn. 2d 19; 116 Wn. 2d 398; 279 P.3d 943; 169 Wn. App. 263
Cited Statutes: Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 4.84.330, § 64.38.050
Date: 04/01/2015

Statutory provisions for the award of attorneys’ fees are contain here:

·                     Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 4.84.330 (stating where contract or lease provides for fees incurred in enforcing the contract or lease may be awarded to a prevailing party (party in whose favor a final judgment is rendered) and waiver of attorney’s fees in contract or lease is void).


·                     Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 64.38.050 (providing for aggrieved party to pursue attorney’s fees for violation of Chapter 64.38).

Cases in which a court has considered and either granted or refused an award of attorneys’ fees include the following:

·                     Roats v. Blakely Island Maint. Comm’n, Inc., 169 Wn. App. 263, 279 P.3d 943 (Wash. Ct. App. 2012) (holding corporation’s governing documents reviewed in context of accepted rules of contract interpretation (i.e. examining parties’ intent); holding Washington applies “context rule” to ascertain intent which allows courts to view contract as whole, to consider extrinsic evidence (circumstances leading to contract, subsequent conduct of parties, and reasonableness of interpretations) and context rule applies even when provision is unambiguous; holding “articles of incorporation, by-laws, and covenants are ‘correlated documents’ to be construed together;” and holding homeowners’ association’s authority not determined based solely on one such document and determination requires analyzing documents as a whole).


·                     Wachovia SBA Lending, […]

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