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Orders that a Court can make as to costs

If a case is tried and proceeds to judgement the Court may be asked to rule on costs. The normal rule outside of family law is “costs follow the event” – in other words, the loser pays both sides costs. In family law the usual order is “no order as to costs” which means that both sides pay their own costs. These are both the “usual” orders, but the Court’s discretion is wide and it is not unknown for there to be no order as to costs in a non-family law case or for costs to follow the event in a family law case. There are other orders the Court can make (e.g. “costs thrown away”, where the winner pays both sides costs. This is very rare).

Where costs are awarded it is usually on a “party/party” basis. That doesn’t include costs which have been incurred or increased through caution, negligence, mistake, or payment of special fees to Counsel or special charges or expenses. If these are included it is referred to as a “solicitor/client” basis.

When an order for costs is made or a settlement is reached, the solicitor should liaise with Legal Services on the issue of the recovery of costs. You should be aware of the facility for a barrister to claim ‘commercial’ rates of costs where costs are recoverable on a party / party basis.