Wasted Costs in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Hytec Information Systems Ltd v Coventry City Council
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 04 Diciembre 1996

    There are good reasons why the court should not: firstly, if anyone is to suffer for the failure of the solicitor it is better that it be the client than another party to the litigation; secondly, the disgruntled client may in appropriate cases have his remedies in damages or in respect of the wasted costs; thirdly, it seems to me that it would become a charter for the incompetent (as Mr MacGregor eloquently put it) were this court to allow almost impossible investigations in apportioning blame between solicitor and counsel on the one hand, or between themselves and their client on the other.

  • Ridehalgh v Horsefield; Watson v Watson (Wasted Costs Orders)
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 26 Enero 1994

    The expression aptly describes conduct which is vexatious, designed to harass the other side rather than advance the resolution of the case, and it makes no difference that the conduct is the product of excessive zeal and not improper motive. The acid test is whether the conduct permits of a reasonable explanation. If so, the course adopted may be regarded as optimistic and as reflecting on a practitioner's judgment, but it is not unreasonable.

    Judges who are invited to make or contemplate making a wasted costs order must make full allowance for the inability of respondent lawyers to tell the whole story. Where there is room for doubt, the respondent lawyers are entitled to the benefit of it. It is again only when, with all allowances made, a lawyer's conduct of proceedings is quite plainly unjustifiable that it can be appropriate to make a wasted costs order.

    As emphasised in Re a Barrister (Wasted Costs Order) (No 1 of 1991), above, the court has jurisdiction to make a wasted costs order only where the improper, unreasonable or negligent conduct complained of has caused a waste of costs and only to the extent of such wasted costs.

    The overriding requirements are that any procedure must be fair and that it must be as simple and summary as fairness permits. Judges must not reject a weapon which Parliament has intended to be used for the protection of those injured by the unjustifiable conduct of the other side's lawyers, but they must be astute to control what threatens to become a new and costly form of satellite litigation.

    Even if the court is satisfied that a legal representative has acted improperly, unreasonably or negligently and that such conduct has caused the other side to incur an identifiable sum of wasted costs, it is not bound to make an order, but in that situation it would of course have to give sustainable reasons for exercising its discretion against making an order.

  • Medcalf v Mardell (Wasted Costs Order)
    • House of Lords
    • 27 Junio 2002

    This appeal has raised for consideration the wasted costs jurisdiction of civil courts under s.51 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 as amended by the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. Section 51 is a provision dealing generally with the jurisdiction to make orders as to costs including a general power to determine by whom and to what extent costs of the proceedings are to be paid: s.51(3).

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Books & Journal Articles
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  • Witness summons
    • HM Courts & Tribunals Service court and tribunal forms
    County Court forms including the N1 money claim form.
    ... ... imprisoned for contempt. You may also be liable to pay any wasted costs that arise because of your ... non-compliance ... If you wish to ... ...
  • Witness Summons
    • HM Courts & Tribunals Service court and tribunal forms
    Forms relating to adoption, including those to request adoption, placement and parental orders.
    ... ... contempt. You may also be liable to pay any wasted costs that arise because of your non-compliance ... If you wish to set ... ...
  • Application for Costs or Expenses
    • HM Courts & Tribunals Service court and tribunal forms
    Chancery forms, including claim forms and applications for orders.
    ... ... Amount of VAT claimed ... on solicitors and counsel’s fees ... on other expenses ... Grand Total ... Applications for wasted costs only: Cost ... incurred in making this application ... The costs estimated above do not exceed ... the costs which the (receiving party) is ... ...
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