Understanding the Law
February 25, 2005

Costs in Court

Last week I explained the costs that may be incurred on a case that is dealt with by the court. Where a matter is started in court but is terminated before the end of the trial the costs will be a percentage of the prescribed costs (explained last week). For example where a case is settled, withdrawn or ended after the defence is filed, the costs would be 45% of the prescribed costs. After defence is filed and the case management conference held there would be a cost of 55% of the prescribed cost. {{more}}After a default judgment and assessment of damages, the cost would be 60% of the prescribed costs. Up to the trial, it would be 100% of the prescribed costs.

The court awards costs to the successful party. Only on rare occasion would a successful party have to pay costs. If the judge has discretion he would make a decision that is reasonable and fair to the parties. He would also make a decision that is fair to the legal practitioner and his client. He would therefore take into consideration all matters pertaining to the case. In the case of costs charged by a legal practitioner, if he had an agreement with his client with respect to the charges, it would be taken into consideration. The judge would also take into consideration the grade of the legal practitioner. If the practitioner takes an unusual step that is expensive in relation to the nature of the case, the judge would take into consideration whether or not it was done on the instructions of the client.

Wasted Costs

The legal practitioner representing a party could be ordered to pay wasted costs if by his act or omission he did something that was unreasonable, improper or negligent. He will be also responsible for an act or omission of his employee if the court considers it unreasonable to expect the other party to pay. An application supported by affidavit must be made to the court for wasted costs and the applicant must notify the practitioner against whom the action is taken. The court must also notify the practitioner that it will consider the application and he/she would be given a chance to show cause.

Costs against a person who is not a party

A person who is not a party in the case may be liable to pay costs. A party in the case could make application for a person not involved in the case to pay costs. If from the evidence the court considers making an order to this effect the person must be given notice and allowed to show cause. The court must issue a notice to all concerned to attend a hearing within fourteen days of service of the notice.

Other costs

As explained previously, the practitioner may have some additional costs in bringing a case to the court. For example, he will incur cost for the stationery, photocopying and service of documents among others. He may have to utilize the services of experts to make sure that the best representation is obtained. As I mentioned before many matters are dealt with by the court but there are many that are settled outside the court. The Rules cover some other costs but I have tried to give you the main ones.