Picking up the Tab: Who pays the bill at a business lunch?

Q: When going to a business lunch, who should pay?  I requested a meeting with our law firm to discuss issues and they suggested we meet over lunch.



A: Unfortunately, there is no “correct” answer.  It could be argued that since you requested the meeting, you should pay.  On the other hand, since they suggested a luncheon meeting, they could be expected to pay.   The diplomatic thing to do may be, when the check arrives, to offer to pay for lunch.  In all likelihood, members of the law firm will offer to pay or split the bill.


  1. noah

    If you’re meeting with business lawyers, they will pick up the tab. But you may pay. If it’s a friendly “keeping in touch” lunch, they’ll pay it. If it’s a meeting arranged to obtain legal advice, you will pay their hourly rate for their time and they may (but also may not) expense the lunch to your company on their next bill.

  2. Angelo

    In my country (Peru), if you invited someone you have to pay but if they want to pay they can have different bills.
    In the majority of cases, the boss should pay the bill.

  3. MoonhyunKim

    I agree with the answer. Business lunch is a important lunch. We should do best for successing the business.
    If, someone think that buy the lunch for business partner is waste, this compromise will be distroed. so don’t be think it is waste

  4. Christoph

    In Germany, you have to pay for your guests when you have invited them. But only if it is a customer of yours (because you want them to buy something from you.) If it is a supplier, it is just the other way round. If your guests are coming from another city or country, you also have to organize a hotel and a programm for them. But not only working staff, you also have to show them your city, the landscape around and something that is typical for your county.

    If you are at lunch with your boss, he will pay for you. Ask him what he is going to eat and take something that is in the same pricing category. Only order alcoholic drinks if your boss does too.

    If you have more questions about the restaurant-manners in Germany, just ask. :)

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