California Civil Code Section 1717
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California Laws > Civil Code > California Civil Code Section 1717
1717. (a) In any action on a contract, where the contract
specifically provides that attorney's fees and costs, which are
incurred to enforce that contract, shall be awarded either to one of
the parties or to the prevailing party, then the party who is
determined to be the party prevailing on the contract, whether he or
she is the party specified in the contract or not, shall be entitled
to reasonable attorney's fees in addition to other costs.
Where a contract provides for attorney's fees, as set forth above,
that provision shall be construed as applying to the entire
contract, unless each party was represented by counsel in the
negotiation and execution of the contract, and the fact of that
representation is specified in the contract.
Reasonable attorney's fees shall be fixed by the court, and shall
be an element of the costs of suit.
Attorney's fees provided for by this section shall not be subject
to waiver by the parties to any contract which is entered into after
the effective date of this section. Any provision in any such
contract which provides for a waiver of attorney's fees is void.
(b) (1) The court, upon notice and motion by a party, shall
determine who is the party prevailing on the contract for purposes of
this section, whether or not the suit proceeds to final judgment.
Except as provided in paragraph (2), the party prevailing on the
contract shall be the party who recovered a greater relief in the
action on the contract. The court may also determine that there is no
party prevailing on the contract for purposes of this section.
(2) Where an action has been voluntarily dismissed or dismissed
pursuant to a settlement of the case, there shall be no prevailing
party for purposes of this section.
Where the defendant alleges in his or her answer that he or she
tendered to the plaintiff the full amount to which he or she was
entitled, and thereupon deposits in court for the plaintiff, the
amount so tendered, and the allegation is found to be true, then the
defendant is deemed to be a party prevailing on the contract within
the meaning of this section.
Where a deposit has been made pursuant to this section, the court
shall, on the application of any party to the action, order the
deposit to be invested in an insured, interest-bearing account.
Interest on the amount shall be allocated to the parties in the same
proportion as the original funds are allocated.
(c) In an action which seeks relief in addition to that based on a
contract, if the party prevailing on the contract has damages
awarded against it on causes of action not on the contract, the
amounts awarded to the party prevailing on the contract under this
section shall be deducted from any damages awarded in favor of the
party who did not prevail on the contract. If the amount awarded
under this section exceeds the amount of damages awarded the party
not prevailing on the contract, the net amount shall be awarded the
party prevailing on the contract and judgment may be entered in favor
of the party prevailing on the contract for that net amount.
Last modified: February 22, 2013