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What Does My Cost Order Mean?

Harkiran Kaur

In civil litigation, cost orders can be awarded at various stages of a proceeding. The wording of an order for costs is important and determines what costs are payable and by whom.

Some common orders and their meanings are:

The costs of the hearing (or of an application during the proceedings) will be determined on a later occasion. If no specific order is subsequently made in relation to those reserved costs, they will be payable in the same way as the general costs of the proceedings (See UCPR r 42.7(1)).

The costs of an application will be payable by the party who is ordered to pay the costs at the final hearing.

The costs will be payable by the unsuccessful party at the “event”, that is, the interlocutory hearing.

The party is entitled to the costs of the application (whatever the outcome of the final hearing) but is not entitled to payment / assessment of the costs until the “event” – usually final judgment.

The party is entitled to the costs they have incurred as a result of an action or omission by another party (such as an amendment to a pleading by the other party, or an adjournment) whatever the final outcome.

If an order is made that “there be no order as to costs”, the effect is that each party pays their own costs. This should not be confused with the costs of hearings at which no order for costs is made, which will be payable in accordance with any subsequent orders for interlocutory or final costs.

This has a similar effect as “no order as to costs”.

The party in whose favour the costs order is made, should make an offer to settle its costs and then, if settlement is not reached, submit a bill to the paying party. If the costs cannot be agreed, the costs will be assessed by a costs assessor (or taxed by the court if the order was made in a court in which taxation still applies). Costs will be assessed on the ordinary basis unless the court otherwise orders.

These are more generous than costs assessed on an ordinary basis. Under r 42.5(b) of the UCPR, this means all costs are to be allowed other than those that appear to have been unreasonably incurred or appear to be of an unreasonable amount.

If you have questions about cost orders or any litigation or dispute matters, please do not hesitate to contact a member of Coleman Grieg’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team, who would be more than happy to assist you.