Solicitors’ costs

Legal costs can be very difficult to understand even for the solicitors. The general principle is the loser pays the winners costs but it is never as simple as this. However unless the parties can agree who should pay what and when then it will be for the court to decide.

The general principles are set out in the Civil Procedure Rules CPR 44.3, which provides:

44.3(1) The court has a discretion as to –

(a) whether costs are payable by one party to another

(b) the amount of those costs and

(c) when they are to be paid.

(2) If the court decides to make an order about costs –

(a) the general rule is that the unsuccessful party will be ordered to pay the costs of the
successful party but

(b) the court may make a different order …

(4) In deciding what order (if any) to make about costs, the court must have regard to all the
circumstances, including –

(a) the conduct of all the parties

(b) whether a party has succeeded on part of his case, even if he has not been wholly successful

(5) The conduct of the parties includes –

(a) conduct before, as well as during, the proceedings, …

(b) whether it was reasonable for a party to raise, pursue or contest a particular allegation or

(c) the manner in which a party has pursued or defended his case or a particular allegation or

(6) The orders which the court may make under this rule include an order that a party must pay –

(a) a proportion of another party’s costs

(b) a stated amount in respect of another party’s costs

(c) costs from or until a certain date only

(d) costs incurred before proceedings have begun

(e) costs relating to particular steps taken in the proceedings

(f) costs relating only to a distinct part of the proceedings …

(7) Where the court would otherwise consider making an order under paragraph (6)(f), it must instead, if practicable, make an order under paragraph (6)(a) or (c).”

In respect of all intellectual property matters the general rule is that the CPR and associated practice directions apply, unless a rule in Pt 63 or its practice directions provides otherwise (CPR 63.2).

So CPR 44.3 applies as to how the court should exercise its discretion as to costs.

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