P.L. 96–481, Approved October 21, 1980 (94 Stat. 2321)

Small Business Export Expansion Act of 1980

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Title II—Equal Access to Justice Act

Sec. 201. [5 U.S.C. 504 note]  This title may be cited as the “Equal Access to Justice Act”.


Sec. 202. [5 U.S.C. 504 note] (a)  The Congress finds that certain individuals, partnerships, corporations, and labor and other organizations may be deterred from seeking review of, or defending against, unreasonable governmental action because of the expense involved in securing the vindication of their rights in civil actions and in administrative proceedings.

(b)  The Congress further finds that because of the greater resources and expertise of the United States the standard for an award of fees against the United States should be different from the standard governing an award against a private litigant, in certain situations.

(c)  It is the purpose of this title—

(1)  to diminish the deterrent effect of seeking review of, or defending against, governmental action by providing in specified situations an award of attorney fees, expert witness fees, and other costs against the United States; and

(2)  to insure the applicability in actions by or against the United States of the common law and statutory exceptions to the “American rule” respecting the award of attorney fees.

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Sec. 206. [28 U.S.C. 2412 note] (a)  Except as provided in subsection (b), nothing in section 2412(d) of title 28, United States Code, as added by section 204(a) of this title, alters, modifies, repeals, invalidates, or supersedes any other provision of Federal law which authorizes an award of such fees and other expenses to any party other than the United States that prevails in any civil action brought by or against the United States.

(b)  Section 206(b) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 406(b)(1)) shall not prevent an award of fees and other expenses under section 2412(d) of title 28, United States Code. Section 206(b)(2) of the Social Security Act shall not apply with respect to any such award but only if, where the claimant’s attorney receives fees for the same work under both section 206(b) of that Act and section 2412(d) of title 28, United States Code, the claimant’s attorney refunds to the claimant the amount of the smaller fee.

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Sec. 208. [5 U.S.C. 504 note]  This title and the amendments made by this title shall take effect of[347] October 1, 1981, and shall apply to any adversary adjudication, as defined in section 504(b)(1)(C) of title 5, United States Code, and any civil action or adversary adjudication described in section 2412 of title 28, United States Code, which is pending on, or commenced on or after, such date. Awards may be made for fees and other expenses incurred before October 1, 1981, in any such adversary adjudication or civil action.

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[Internal Reference.—SSAct §206(b) has a footnote referring to P.L. 96-481.]

[347]  As in original. Probably should be “on”.