Definition of Fee

A charge fixed by law for services of public officers or for use of a privilege under control of government. Fort Smith Gas Co. v. Wiseman, 189 Ark. 675, 74 S.W.2d 789, 790. A recompense for an official or professional service or a charge or emolument or compensation for a particular act or service. A fixed charge or perquisite charged as recompense for labor; reward, compensation, or wage given to a person for performance of services or something done or to be done.

See also Base {Base fee),- Commitment fee; License fee or tax; Poundage fees; Retainer.

Attorney fees. Charge to client for services performed (e.g. hourly fee, fiat fee, contingency fee). Such fees must be "reasonable” (see e.g. Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5(a)). Numerous federal statutes provide for the award of attorney fees to the prevailing party; e.g., 25% of award in social security disability claim actions. See Contingent fees, below; also, American rule; Equal Access to Justice Act; Fee splitting; Minimum fee schedules; Retainer; Suit (Suit money).

Contingent fees. Arrangement between attorney and client whereby attorney agrees to represent client with compensation to be a percentage of the amount recovered; e.g., 25% if the case is settled, 30% if case goes to trial. Frequently used in personal injury actions. Such fee arrangements are often regulated by court rule or statute depending on the type of action and amount of recovery; and are not permitted in criminal cases (see, e.g., ABA, Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5(c), (d)).

Court fees. Those amounts paid to court or one of its officers for particular charges that typically are delineated by statute, such as docket fees, marshal’s charges and witness fees. Dickerson v. Pritchard, D.C.Ark., 551 F.Supp. 306, 311. See e.g. 28 U.S.C.A. § 1911 et seq. See also Costs; Docket (Docket fee).

Docket fees. See Court fees above-, also Docket.


An interest in land which (a) is or may become possessory; and (b) is ownership measured in terms of duration. Restatement of Property § 9. See also Fee simple.

Ordinarily, word "fee” or "fee simple” is applied to an estate in land, but term is applicable to any kind of hereditament, corporeal or incorporeal, and is all the property in thing referred to or largest estate therein which person may have. In re Forsstrom, 44 Ariz. 472, 38 P.2d 878, 888.

A freehold estate in lands, held of a superior lord, as a reward for services, and on condition of rendering some service in return for it. The true meaning of the word "fee” is the same as that of "feud” or "fief,” and in its original sense it is taken in contradistinction to "allodium,” which latter is defined as a man’s own land, which he possesses merely in his own right, without owing any rent or service to any superior. 2 Bl.Comm. 105.

In modem English tenures, "fee” signifies an estate of inheritance, being the highest and most extensive interest which a man can have in a feud; and when the term is used simply, without any adjunct, or in the form "fee-simple,” it imports an absolute inheritance clear of any condition, limitation, or restriction to particular heirs, but descendible to the heirs general, male or female, lineal or collateral. 2 Bl.Comm. 106.

Base fee. A determinable or qualified fee; an estate having the nature of a fee, but not a fee simple absolute.

Conditional fee. An estate restrained to some particular heirs, exclusive of others, Blume v. Pearcy, 204 S.C. 409, 29 S.E.2d 673, 674, as to the heirs of a man’s body, by which only his lineal descendants were admitted, in exclusion of collateral; or to the heirs male of his body, in exclusion of heirs female, whether lineal or collateral. It was called a "conditional fee,” by reason of the condition expressed or implied in the donation of it that, if the donee died without such particular heirs, the land should revert to the donor. The term includes a fee that is either to commence or determine on some condition; and is sometimes used interchangeably with "base fee,” that is, one to determine or be defeated on the happening of some contingent event or act.

Determinable fee. Also called a "base” or "qualified” fee. One which has a qualification subjoined to it, and which must be determined whenever the qualification annexed to it is at an end. An estate in fee which is liable to be determined by some act or event expressed on its limitation to circumscribe its continuance, or inferred by law as bounding its extent. An estate which may last forever is a "fee,” but if it may end on the happening of a merely possible event, it is a "determinable,” or "qualified fee.”

Determinable fee or fee simple. Estate created with special limitation which delimits duration of estate in land.

Fee damages. See Damages.

Fee expectant. A name sometimes applied to an estate created where lands are given to a man and his wife and the heirs of their bodies. See also Frank-marriage.

Fee simple. See Fee simple.

Fee simple defeasible. Title created in trustees where legal title in fee simple to active trust estate is by will placed in trustees who are required to distribute property in fee simple upon happening of event. Also called a "determinable fee”, "base fee”, or "qualified fee”. Kanawha Val. Bank v. Hornbeck, 151 W.Va. 308, 151 S.E.2d 694, 700.

Great fee. In feudal law, the designation of a fee held directly from the crown.

Knight's fee. See Knights fee.

Limited fee. An estate of inheritance in lands, which is clogged or confined with some sort of condition or qualification. Such estates are based on qualified fees, conditional fees, and fees-tail. The term is opposed to "feesimple.”

Plowman's fee. In old English law, was a species of tenure peculiar to peasants or small farmers, somewhat like gavelkind, by which the lands descended in equal shares to all the sons of the tenant.

Qualified fee. In English law, a fee having a qualification subjoined thereto, and which must be determined whenever the qualification annexed to it is at an end; otherwise termed a "base fee.” An interest which may continue forever, but is liable to be determined, without the aid of a conveyance, by some act or event, circumscribing its continuance or extent. An interest given to a man and certain of his heirs at the time of its limitation. Quasi fee. An estate gained by wrong.

That's the definition of Fee in Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition. Courtesy of Cekhukum.com.