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Summaries and analysis of recent Delaware court decisions concerning business-related litigation.

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Court of Chancery Denies Fee Request

Dittrick v. Chalfant, C.A. No. 2156-S (Del. Ch. May 8, 2007).

Provisions for payment of the attorney's fees of the winning party are not uncommon in contracts. What is "winning" is not always clear, however. This decision holds that when the contract says you must win to collect, then you must win it all to invoke the contract or at least the contract at issue in this case. In other words, you do not get paid for winning half the loaf.

This was an action to specifically enforce an agreement to sell a house. The issue in dispute was what interest rate should apply to the partial payments the plaintiff had made on the contract. When the Court found the rate to be less than the defendant wanted and more than the plaintiff offered, it held the plaintiff did not "win" the litigation to entitle it to fees. Better drafting is the lesson.