2015 ORS 20.082¹
Attorney fees for small contract claims

(1) As used in this section, "contract" includes:

(a) Express contracts;

(b) Implied contracts; and

(c) Instruments or documents evidencing a debt.

(2) Except as provided in this section, a court shall allow reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party on any claim based on contract if:

(a) The amount of the principal together with interest due on the contract at the time the claim is filed is $10,000 or less; and

(b) The contract does not contain a clause that authorizes or requires the award of attorney fees.

(3) Attorney fees may not be awarded to a plaintiff under the provisions of this section unless written demand for payment of the claim was made on the defendant not less than 20 days before the commencement of the action or the filing of a formal complaint under ORS 46.465 (Time and place of hearing), or not more than 20 days after the transfer of the action under ORS 46.461 (Counterclaims). The failure of a plaintiff to give notice under the provisions of this subsection does not affect the ability of a defendant to claim attorney fees under the provisions of this section.

(4) Attorney fees may not be awarded to a plaintiff under the provisions of this section if the court finds that the defendant tendered to the plaintiff, prior to the commencement of the action or the filing of a formal complaint under ORS 46.465 (Time and place of hearing), or not more than 20 days after the transfer of the action under ORS 46.461 (Counterclaims), an amount not less than the amount awarded to the plaintiff.

(5) The provisions of this section do not apply to:

(a) Contracts for insurance;

(b) Contracts for which another statute authorizes or requires an award of attorney fees;

(c) Any action for damages for breach of an express or implied warranty in a sale of consumer goods or services that is subject to ORS 20.098 (Attorney fees and compensation of expert witnesses in certain proceedings for breach of warranty); or

(d) Any action against the maker of a dishonored check that is subject to ORS 30.701 (Actions against maker of dishonored check). [2001 c.542 §1; 2005 c.22 §10; 2009 c.487 §5]

Notes of Decisions

Attorney fee entitle­ment is available for any qualifying claim based in contract, not only contracts that include principal and interest terms. McGarry v. Hansen, 201 Or App 695, 120 P3d 525 (2005), Sup Ct review denied

Where claims are not of type excluded, amounts "due on the contract" include damages for breach of warranty and breach of contract. McGarry v. Hansen, 201 Or App 695, 120 P3d 525 (2005), Sup Ct review denied

Where multiple claims for relief are based on same contract, trial court must aggregate those claims in determining whether to allow attorney fees. Carrillo v. City of Stanfield, 241 Or App 151, 255 P3d 491 (2011)

"Tender" means offer of pay­ment coupled either with no condi­tions or only with condi­tions upon which tendering party has right to insist. Barber v. Green, 248 Or App 404, 273 P3d 294 (2012)

Law Review Cita­tions

56 OLR 585 (1977)


1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 20—Attorney Fees; Costs and Disbursements, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors020.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2015, Chapter 20, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano020.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.