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e-CFR data is current as of January 22, 2021

Title 12Chapter VISubchapter BPart 625 → Subpart A


Title 12: Banks and Banking
PART 625—APPLICATION FOR AWARD OF FEES AND OTHER EXPENSES UNDER THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT


Subpart A—General Provisions


Contents
§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.

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§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.

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§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).

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§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.

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§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.

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§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.

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§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.

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§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.

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