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e-CFR data is current as of June 2, 2020

Title 12Chapter VISubchapter B → Part 625


Title 12: Banks and Banking


PART 625—APPLICATION FOR AWARD OF FEES AND OTHER EXPENSES UNDER THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT


Contents

Subpart A—General Provisions

§625.1   Purpose.
§625.2   Proceedings covered.
§625.3   Eligibility of applicants.
§625.4   Standards for awards.
§625.5   Allowable fees and expenses.
§625.6   Rulemaking on maximum rates for attorney fees.
§625.7   Awards against other agencies.

Subpart B—Applicant Information Required

§625.10   Contents of application.
§625.11   Net worth exhibit.
§625.12   Documentation of fees and expenses.
§625.13   When an application may be filed.

Subpart C—Procedures for Considering Applications

§625.20   Settlement.
§625.21   Filing and service of documents.
§625.22   Answer to application.
§625.23   Reply.
§625.24   Comments by other parties.
§625.25   Further proceedings.
§625.26   Recommended decision.
§625.27   Board decision.
§625.28   Judicial review.
§625.29   Payment of award.

Authority: 5 U.S.C. 504, 12 U.S.C. 2252.

Source: 57 FR 60109, Dec. 18, 1992, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A—General Provisions

§625.1   Purpose.

These rules implement the Equal Access to Justice Act, 5 U.S.C. 504 (EAJA). The EAJA provides for the award of attorney fees and other expenses to eligible individuals and entities who are parties to certain administrative proceedings (designated by the EAJA as “adversary adjudications”) before Federal agencies. An eligible party may receive an award when it prevails over an agency, unless the agency's position was substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust. The rules in this part explain how the EAJA applies to Farm Credit Administration (FCA) proceedings. The rules describe the parties eligible for awards, how such parties may apply for awards, and the procedures and standards that govern FCA consideration of applications.

§625.2   Proceedings covered.

(a) The EAJA applies to adversary adjudications conducted by the FCA either on its own behalf or in connection with any other agency of the United States that participates in or in any way is a part of the adversary adjudication. Adversary adjudications are:

(1) Adjudications under 5 U.S.C. 554 in which the position of the FCA or other agency is presented by an attorney or other representative who enters an appearance and participates in the proceeding; and

(2) Enforcement proceedings under 12 U.S.C. 2261-2273.

(b) The failure of the FCA to identify a type of proceeding as an adversary adjudication shall not preclude the filing of an application by a party who believes that the proceeding is covered by the EAJA; whether the proceeding is covered shall then be an issue for resolution in proceedings on the application.

(c) If a proceeding includes both matters covered and excluded from coverage by the EAJA, any award made will include only fees and expenses related to covered issues.

(d) Proceedings under this part may be conducted by the FCA Board (Board) or by the presiding officer (referred to as the “adjudicative officer” in the EAJA), as defined in §622.2(f) of this chapter. If the Board conducts proceedings, reference to the “presiding officer” in this part shall mean the Board, in applicable context. Where the Board presides, the recommended decision under §625.26 of this part will be omitted and the Board will make a final decision on the application in accordance with §625.27 of this part.

(e) If a court reviews the underlying decision of the adversary adjudication, an award for fees and other expenses may be made only pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2412(d)(3).

§625.3   Eligibility of applicants.

(a) To be eligible for an award under the EAJA, an applicant must be a prevailing party named or admitted to the adversary adjudication for which an award is sought. The applicant must show that it meets all conditions of eligibility set out in this subpart and in subpart B of this part.

(b) The types of eligible applicants are as follows:

(1) An individual with a net worth of $2 million or less;

(2) The sole owner of an unincorporated business who has both a net worth of $7 million or less (including personal and business interests), and 500 or fewer employees;

(3) A charitable or other tax-exempt organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) with 500 or fewer employees;

(4) A cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)) with 500 or fewer employees; and

(5) Any other partnership, corporation, association, unit of local government, or organization with a net worth of $7 million or less and 500 or fewer employees.

(c) For eligibility purposes, the net worth and number of employees of an applicant shall be determined as of the date the adversary adjudication was initiated.

(d) An applicant who owns an unincorporated business will be considered as an “individual” rather than a “sole owner of an unincorporated business” if the issues on which the applicant prevails are related primarily to personal interests rather than to business interests.

(e) The employees of an applicant include all persons who regularly perform services for remuneration for that applicant, under the applicant's direction and control. Part-time employees shall be included on a proportional basis.

(f) The net worth and number of employees of the applicant and all of its affiliates shall be aggregated to determine eligibility unless the presiding officer determines that aggregation would be unjust and contrary to the purposes of the EAJA in light of the actual relationship between the affiliated entities.

(1) For purposes of this part, an affiliate is:

(i) Any individual, corporation, or other entity that directly or indirectly controls or owns a majority of the voting shares or other interests of the applicant; or

(ii) Any corporation or other entity of which the applicant directly or indirectly owns or controls a majority of the voting shares or other interests.

(2) The presiding officer may determine that financial relationships of the applicant other than those described in paragraph (f)(1) of this section constitute special circumstances that would make an award unjust.

(g) An applicant that participates in an adversary adjudication primarily on behalf of one or more other persons or entities that would be ineligible is not itself eligible for an award.

§625.4   Standards for awards.

(a) If an eligible applicant prevails over the FCA in an adversary adjudication, or in a significant and discrete substantive portion thereof, the applicant may receive an award for fees and expenses incurred in the adjudication, or portion thereof, unless the position of the FCA over which the applicant prevailed was substantially justified.

(b) The position of the FCA includes:

(1) The position taken by the FCA in the adversary adjudication; and

(2) The action or inaction of the FCA upon which the adversary adjudication is based.

(c) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, the FCA must prove that its position was substantially justified before an award may be denied to an otherwise eligible applicant.

(d) An award will be reduced or denied if the applicant has unduly or unreasonably protracted the adversary adjudication or if special circumstances make the award sought unjust.

§625.5   Allowable fees and expenses.

(a) Awards will be based on rates customarily charged by persons engaged in the business of acting as attorneys, agents, and expert witnesses, even if the services were made available without charge or at a reduced rate to the applicant.

(b) No award for the fee of an attorney or agent under these rules may exceed $75 per hour. No award to compensate an expert witness may exceed the highest rate at which the FCA pays expert witnesses. However, an award also may include the reasonable expenses of the attorney, agent, or expert witness as a separate item, if the attorney, agent, or expert witness ordinarily charges clients separately for such expenses.

(c) In determining the reasonableness of the fee sought for an attorney, agent, or expert witness, the presiding officer shall consider the following:

(1) If the attorney, agent, or expert witness is in private practice, his or her customary fees for similar services, or, if an employee of the applicant, the fully allocated costs of the services;

(2) The prevailing rate for similar services in the community in which the attorney, agent, or expert witness ordinarily performs services;

(3) The time actually spent in the representation of the applicant;

(4) The time reasonably spent in light of the difficulty or complexity of the issues in the adversary adjudication; and

(5) Such other factors as may bear on the value of the services provided.

(d) The reasonable cost of any study, analysis, audit, engineering report, test, project, or similar matter prepared on behalf of a party may be awarded, to the extent that the charge for the service does not exceed the prevailing rate for similar services, and the study or other matter was necessary for the preparation of the applicant's case.

§625.6   Rulemaking on maximum rates for attorney fees.

(a) If warranted by an increase in the cost of living or by special circumstances (such as limited availability of attorneys qualified to handle certain types of proceedings), the FCA may adopt regulations providing that attorney fees may be awarded at a rate higher than $75 per hour in some or all of the types of proceedings covered by this part. The FCA will conduct any rulemaking proceedings for this purpose under the informal rulemaking procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act.

(b) Any person may file with the FCA a petition for rulemaking to increase the maximum rate for attorney fees. The petition should identify the rate the petitioner believes the FCA should establish and the types of proceedings in which the rate should be used. It should also explain fully the reasons why the higher rate is warranted. The FCA will respond to the petition within 90 days after it is filed, by initiating a rulemaking proceeding, denying the petition, or taking other appropriate action.

§625.7   Awards against other agencies.

If an applicant is entitled to an award because it prevails over another agency of the United States that participates in or in any way is a part of an adversary adjudication before the FCA and that agency's position is not substantially justified, the award or an appropriate portion of the award shall be made against that agency.

Subpart B—Applicant Information Required

§625.10   Contents of application.

(a) An application for an award of fees and other expenses under the EAJA shall identify the applicant and the adversary adjudication for which an award is sought. The application shall show that the applicant has prevailed in the adversary adjudication. If the application is made on the basis of significant and discrete substantive issues on which the applicant prevailed, the issues must be specifically identified. The application also shall identify each position of the FCA or other agencies that the applicant alleges was not substantially justified. Unless the applicant is an individual, the application shall describe briefly the type and purpose of its organization or business and state the number of persons employed.

(b) The application shall include a statement that the applicant's net worth does not exceed $2 million (if an individual) or $7 million (for all other applicants, including their affiliates). However, an applicant may omit this statement if:

(1) It states that it has 500 employees or fewer and attaches a copy of a ruling by the Internal Revenue Service that it qualifies as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) or, in the case of a tax-exempt organization not required to obtain a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service on its exempt status, a statement that describes the basis for the applicant's belief that it qualifies under such section; or

(2) It states that it is a cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)) with 500 or fewer employees.

(c) The application shall state the total amount of fees and other expenses for which an award is sought.

(d) The application may include any other relevant matters that the applicant wishes the FCA to consider in determining whether and in what amount an award should be made.

(e) The application shall be signed by the applicant or an authorized officer or attorney of the applicant. The application must contain a written verification under oath or under penalty of perjury that the information provided in the application and any supporting documents is accurate.

§625.11   Net worth exhibit.

(a) Each applicant, except a qualified tax-exempt organization or cooperative association, must provide with its application a detailed exhibit showing the net worth of the applicant and any affiliates (as defined in §625.3(f)(1) of this part) as of the date when the adversary adjudication was initiated. The exhibit may be in any convenient form that provides full disclosure of the assets and liabilities of the applicant and its affiliates and is otherwise sufficient to demonstrate that the applicant qualifies under the standards in this part. The presiding officer may require an applicant to file additional information supporting its eligibility for an award.

(b) An applicant that objects to public disclosure of information in any portion of the net worth exhibit and believes there are legal grounds for withholding it from disclosure may submit that portion of the exhibit directly to the presiding officer in a sealed envelope labeled “Confidential Financial Information,” accompanied by a motion under §622.11 of this chapter to withhold the information from public disclosure. The motion shall describe the information sought to be withheld and explain, in detail, why it falls within one or more of the specific exemptions from mandatory disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b) (1)-(9), why public disclosure of the information would adversely affect the applicant, and why disclosure is not required in the public interest. The material in question shall be served on counsel representing the FCA, but need not be served on any other party to the application proceeding. If the presiding officer, or the FCA Board pursuant to §622.11(e) of this chapter, finds that the information should not be withheld from disclosure, it shall be placed in the public record of the application proceeding. Otherwise, any request to inspect or copy the exhibit shall be treated in accordance with the FCA's procedures regarding release of information (12 CFR part 602).

§625.12   Documentation of fees and expenses.

The application shall be accompanied by full documentation of the fees and expenses, including the cost of any study, analysis, audit, engineering report, test, project, or similar matter, for which an award is sought. A separate itemized statement shall be submitted for each professional firm or individual whose services are covered by the application, showing the hours spent in connection with the proceeding by each individual, a description of the specific services performed, the rates at which each fee has been computed, any expenses for which reimbursement is sought, and the total amount paid or payable by the applicant or by any other person or entity for the services provided. Under §625.25 of this part, the presiding officer may require the applicant to provide vouchers, receipts, logs, or other substantiation for any fees or expenses claimed.

§625.13   When an application may be filed.

(a) An application may be filed whenever the applicant has prevailed in the adversary adjudication, or in a significant and discrete substantive portion thereof, but in no case later than 30 days after the FCA's final disposition of the adversary adjudication.

(b) For purposes of this rule, final disposition means the date on which a decision or order disposing of the merits of the adversary adjudication is issued or any other complete resolution of the adversary adjudication, such as a settlement or voluntary dismissal, becomes final and is unreviewable by the FCA, any other administrative body, or the courts.

(c) If review, reconsideration, or appeal is sought or taken of an adversary adjudication decision as to which an applicant believes it has prevailed, application proceedings for any award of fees and other expenses shall be stayed pending final disposition of the underlying controversy.

Subpart C—Procedures for Considering Applications

§625.20   Settlement.

A prevailing party and the FCA through its counsel may agree on a proposed settlement of an award at any time, either in connection with a settlement of the underlying adversary adjudication or after the underlying adversary adjudication has been concluded. If a prevailing party and the FCA counsel agree on a proposed settlement of an award, the proposed settlement must be submitted to the presiding officer for a recommended decision pursuant to §625.26 of this part. If it has not been previously filed, the application must be submitted to the presiding officer along with the proposed settlement.

§625.21   Filing and service of documents.

Any application for an award or other pleading or document related to an application shall be filed and served on all parties to the adversary adjudication in the same manner as other pleadings in the adversary adjudication (see §§622.18 and 622.19 of this chapter), except as provided in §625.11(b) of this part for confidential financial information.

§625.22   Answer to application.

(a) Within 30 days after service, counsel for the FCA may file an answer to the application. Unless the FCA counsel requests an extension of time for filing or a statement of intent to negotiate under paragraph (c) of this section is filed, the presiding officer, upon a satisfactory showing of entitlement by the applicant, may make an award for the applicant's fees and other expenses under the EAJA.

(b) The answer shall set forth any objections to the requested award and identify the facts relied on in support of the FCA's position. If the answer is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the adversary adjudication, the FCA counsel shall include with the answer either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under §625.25 of this part.

(c) If the FCA counsel and the applicant believe that the issues in the fee application can be settled, they may jointly file a statement of their intent to negotiate a settlement. The filing of this statement shall extend the time for filing an answer for an additional 30 days, and further extensions may be granted by the presiding officer upon request by the FCA counsel and the applicant.

§625.23   Reply.

Within 15 days after service of an answer, the applicant may file a reply. If the reply is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the adversary adjudication, the applicant shall include with the reply either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under §625.25 of this part.

§625.24   Comments by other parties.

Any party to a proceeding other than the applicant and FCA counsel may file comments on an application within 30 days after it is served or on an answer within 15 days after it is served. A commenting party may not participate further in proceedings on the application unless the presiding officer determines that the public interest requires such participation in order to permit full exploration of matters raised in the comments.

§625.25   Further proceedings.

(a) The determination of an award shall be made on the basis of the written record unless the presiding officer finds that further proceedings are necessary for full and fair resolution of the issues arising from the application. Such further proceedings may be at the request of either the applicant or the FCA counsel, or on the presiding officer's own initiative, and shall be conducted as promptly as possible. Further proceedings may include an informal conference, oral argument, additional written submissions, or other actions required by the presiding officer, but may not include discovery or an evidentiary hearing with respect to the issue of whether the agency's position was substantially justified.

(b) Whether or not the position of the agency was substantially justified shall be determined on the basis of the administrative record, as a whole, which is made in the adversary adjudication for which fees and other expenses are sought.

(c) A request that the presiding officer order further proceedings under this section shall specifically identify the information sought or the disputed issues and shall explain why the additional proceedings are necessary to resolve the issues.

§625.26   Recommended decision.

The presiding officer shall file a recommended decision within 30 days after completion of proceedings on the application, and, promptly upon filing, shall serve a copy of the recommended decision upon each party to the proceedings. The decision shall include written findings and conclusions on the applicant's eligibility, status as a prevailing party, the recommended amount of the award, if any, and an explanation of the reasons for any difference between the amount requested and the amount awarded. The decision shall also include, if at issue, findings on whether the FCA's position was substantially justified, whether the applicant unduly protracted the adversary adjudication, or whether special circumstances make an award unjust. If the applicant has sought an award against more than one agency, the decision shall allocate responsibility for payment of any award made among the agencies, and shall explain the reasons for the allocation made.

§625.27   Board decision.

Following filing of the recommended decision with the Board, the Board shall render a final decision on the application. The Board maintains full discretion to uphold, reverse, remand, or alter the recommended decision. The Board may order further proceedings (including those set forth in §§622.11 and 622.13 through 622.16 of this chapter) upon request by any party to the application proceeding or on its own initiative, but such proceedings may not include discovery or an evidentiary hearing with respect to the issue of whether the agency's position was substantially justified.

§625.28   Judicial review.

Judicial review of final FCA decisions on awards may be sought as provided in 5 U.S.C. 504(c)(2).

§625.29   Payment of award.

(a) An applicant seeking payment of an award shall submit to the Secretary to the Board a copy of the final decision granting the award, accompanied by a certification that the applicant will not seek judicial review of the decision. The required submission and certification should be sent to: Secretary to the Board, Farm Credit Administration, 1501 Farm Credit Drive, McLean, Virginia 22102-5090.

(b) The FCA will pay the amount awarded to the applicant within 60 days of receipt of the applicant's submission and certification.

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