H.R.2204 - Equal Access to Justice Reform Act of 2003108th Congress (2003-2004)
Summary: H.R.2204 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)
Introduced in House (05/22/2003)
Equal Access to Justice Reform Act of 2003 - Modifies Federal provisions regarding the functions and duties of the Office of Advocacy to include ensuring that the justice system remains accessible to small businesses for the resolution of disputes with the Federal Government. Directs the Office to advise, cooperate with, and consult with the President and Attorney General regarding provisions concerning the awarding of Federal contracts to small businesses and minority-, female-, and veteran-owned businesses.
Requires the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration to report to specified congressional committees on the effectiveness of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) in achieving its purpose to ease the burden upon small businesses engaging in dispute resolution with the Federal Government, and on the variations in the frequency and amounts of fee awards paid by specific Federal agencies and within specific Federal circuits and districts.
Eliminates the EAJA's: (1) "substantial justification defense" whereby the Government can deny attorney's fees recovery to prevailing parties if the adjudicative officer of the agency finds that the agency's position was substantially justified; and (2) rate cap of $125 per hour on attorney's fees.
Sets forth provisions regarding settlement offers, declaration of intent to seek a fee award, payment from agency appropriations, and taxpayer eligibility for fee awards.
Defines "prevailing party" to include a party whose pursuit of a non-frivolous claim or defense was a catalyst for a voluntary or unilateral change in position by the opposing party that provides any significant part of the relief sought.