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Who Pays Court Costs and Fees?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 3 Dec 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Pay Costs Court Small Claims Judgment

The usual rule in most cases is that the losing party will pay the other side’s costs of bringing the claim to court. The situation in small claims cases is modified and the costs that a losing party will pay have been deliberately restricted to limit the financial risk to the parties.

All amounts stated below are accurate as at May 2008.

“No Costs” in the Small Claims Court

It is often said that there is a “no costs” rule in the small claims court. However, this does not mean that a victorious party cannot recover any costs incurred in a small claims case. Part 27 of the Civil Procedure Rules sets out the maximum costs which a judge can order a party to pay. Whether or not the judge will order a party to pay costs is ultimately a matter for him.

The costs awarded may depend on a number of factors including the relative financial status of the parties and their behaviour before and during court proceedings. If any costs awarded by the judge do not cover the expenses actually incurred, the party will have to pay them out of their own pocket.

Legal Costs and Fees

The victorious party can recover the following legal costs and fees:
  • The costs of issuing the claim and any court fees which have been paid, such as the allocation questionnaire fee.
  • If the case includes a claim for an injunction or specific performance - an amount for legal advice and assistance to a maximum of £260.
  • If a small claims case proceeds to an appeal, the appeal court may summarily assess the costs of the appeal – the costs of an appeal are not subject to the usual small claims limitations.
  • Any order for costs made before the claim was allocated to the small claims court.

Witness Costs

The following expenses incurred by a party or witness may be recovered:
  • Travel expenses of witnesses or the party, including the costs of overnight accommodation if needed. No limit is placed on these costs.
  • An amount for loss of earnings incurred by a witness or party due to attending the hearing, limited to £50 per day per person.

Expert Costs

If the court has given permission in advance for a party to use expert evidence a maximum of £200 per expert may be recovered from the losing party to cover the expert’s fees.

Unreasonable Costs

The rules on small claims costs give the judge a power to make a punitive costs order if he thinks that a party has behaved unreasonably. If the judge is minded to make such an order he may take into account all the costs that a party has incurred in either bringing or defending the claim before deciding how much the other side should pay in respect of these.

Exceptions to the Small Claims Costs Rules

Where the parties consented to a claim being allocated to the small claims track, although its financial value exceeded £5000, the rules on costs are different. The judge will be able to make the same order for costs as if the claim had been dealt with on the fast track (broadly speaking this covers claims with a financial value of between £5000 and £15,000). While these costs are still limited they are substantially more than could be awarded on the small claims track.

If a possession claim has been allocated to the small claims track after the consent of the parties, the judge may again award costs as if the claim was on the fast track.

How Costs are Paid

If the claimant wins the case, any costs that the defendant is ordered to pay are likely to be added to the total judgment debt to be paid at the same rate. If the defendant wins, the court will decide when and at what rate the claimant should pay costs.

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Hi I am taking an airline to court over excess luggage and the wording they have used which I feel if extremely unclear. If they win, how much lawyer fees could they get off me? Thanks
Ant - 3-Dec-18 @ 2:06 PM
Hi I need some advice urgently regarding a ongoing Civil claim that I have taken. I am keen to settle it and I want to know the best way of doing so. The claim is against my former landlord. I fled his property in October 2017 when he made a threat of sexual violence toward me. I involved the police and fled to a women’s refuge. When I fled i did so quickly and I left my belongings behind. When I returned to collect them, I found he had trashed everything. So I’ve taken civil action to recover the costs. He had a default judgment on the 3rd May because he failed to respond to the particulars of claim or any court paperwork . He also received an harassment pin warning from the police. I have tons of evidence inc 15 photos of my damaged possessions and police reports etc. The initial judgement was for £1800 but is now just over £2,000 with enforcement costs. I don’t want to face going to a final hearing and wonder if it’s worth me putting a ‘without predujice’ offer to him, but I am unsure how to proceed and what figure to offer? Any help or advice would be so very welcome. Thank you
Bluemoon - 11-Sep-18 @ 5:12 PM
I had some work done on my car at a garage,(they replaced the cam chain). whom we have used before, I finally picked it up, after approx 5 weeks of them having my car. On the way home (approx 1.7 miles distance to home) it stalled, I just put it down to that I hadn't driven it for over 5 weeks. but over the next couple of weeks it kept stalling when slowing down at roundabouts and traffic lights etc, the furthest I would drive each time was approx 10/11 miles, for work, then it would cool for between 6/10 hrs, depending on which shift I was doing, and obviously would then drive home. I have had NO lights come up, no warnings, so realised there was something not quite right, whilst driving home on my final journey in my newly repaired car, I was literally 3/4 minutes from home, when a noticed a big puff of white/grey smoke coming from my car as I looked in my rear view mirror, so I drove straight to our own garagewhere my partners was waiting, and as I pulled up saw the warning message that I needed to 'check oil level', which my partner immediately done, to our horror there was NO oil in our car, he looked straight underneath to make sure there was no leaking oil, to which it was bone dry with NO oil residue, he subsequently put 2 litres of oil in my car, as thats all we had in our garage,when he rechecked the dipstick, it was only showing half way. He immediately rang the guy from the 'garage' and asked him if when they did they cam chain, did they change the oil, he said yes they did, to which my partner replied well there's no oil in it, (my partner was a mechanic years ago, just doesn't have the time or the inclination to do this type of job which is why we paid a professional) he tried to say it would have blown up straight away, but we have researched, including watching videos of people driving around, thrashing a car with an engine which was already knackered at over 200,000 miles on the clock, (mine has 70,000) and it lasted for 15 mins with NO oil in it, it also replicated the things happening to my car leading upto to it blowing out white/grey smoke, which is when the head gasket has blown, which means damage to at least the heads, and that the oil light never came on, maybe they didn't reconnect the wire as well as not filling it with oil, when they put it back together??? so my question is:- do I have a good chance of making a claim against them, if they either DO NOT put my car right or give me an alternative similar car of same value...
meee - 19-Aug-18 @ 1:33 PM
I paid off a ccj but was told I still owe. Turns out the claimant has added charges outside the court order so they won't issue my cert of satisfaction. Is this correct? Surely the extra added is outside the agreement? Can I claim my cos?
Andy - 7-Jan-18 @ 12:51 PM
I paid off a ccj and tried to get my c of satisfaction but was told I still owe money. It turns out the claimant has put charges on top but this has not gone through the court so from what I can see I have paid off the debt and it is up to them to pursue me for the costs separately as the court did not add them on. Is this correct? Can I get my certificate?
Andy - 7-Jan-18 @ 12:44 PM
@cazopal - if you've accepted a cheque, it might mean you have accepted this. The small claims court might wonder why you stayed there for the full two weeks if it was so bad.
Jac - 19-Dec-17 @ 3:41 PM
We were not informed of construction work going on behind our holiday cottage. They breached their written terms and conditions 3 times before we booked when we contacted them by not informing us andtwice refusing to move us. They admit that they knew about the ongoing construction and that they should have moved us.They finally sent one weeks refund but I want both weeks refunded as this holiday was not fit for purpose because of noise.They said that the refund was in final settlement. I accepted thee cheque but informed them that I did not agree that it was in final settlement. Legally this cheque is not a binding agreement and they did not write final settlement on the cheque. It was not sent by a solicitor nor did they say that if I did not agree that it was in final settlement that it should be returned to them. Therefore the act of cashing the cheque does not in itself mean that I should be treated as having accepted it as final. I am taking them to the small claims court do I have a good chance of winning? advise please
cazopal - 8-Dec-17 @ 9:38 PM
@Light - you could have sent him a cheque.
Maggs - 7-Dec-17 @ 3:14 PM
Hi, I offered to pay for a rentals company damage to a trailer the owner won't give me his bank details and I have told him lots of times I'll pay £80 and now he has filed a claim against me ,and he says I must pay all his costs , I have been offering to pay home before this and I even purchased a replacement light for him . What must I do As I keep asking and now he wants me to pay for the extra £25 for filing the claim and I am leaving g the country in 2 week for good ? What can I do?
Light - 6-Dec-17 @ 11:05 PM
I purchased a car from a dealer 10 days ago and things started to wrong with it.The dealer has refused refund so I am in contact with trading standards . I have had a report done at an independent garage which shows it should never have passes it's MOT as it's been in a crash and a part underneath is bent and twisted amd there are other faults but they aren't MOT failures.We are sending a copy of the report and a letter as advices but if he still refuses to pay back the £1997 I will have to go to small claims court. How long would it be likely to drag out and would it be costly ?
Barlow - 8-Nov-17 @ 8:59 AM
You are being sued n your name because you were involved in the accident. This is normal. You should immediately notify your insurer who will ( providing they have agreed to indemnify you) make arrangements to defend the action or agree a oayment
Claim man - 28-Aug-17 @ 11:43 AM
Hi I am being taken to the small claims court after a accident..my insurance company wouldn't pay the guy anything because there was no damage to my vehicle...cut a long story short he is suing me personally..I can't afford a solicitor have no assests at all I am a full time carer for my parents so on benefits .I have nothing so how can I pay this guy very worried please please advise.
Pooley - 12-Jun-17 @ 6:57 PM
Buzz - Your Question:
Why does the web page entitled "Who Pays Court Costs and Fees?" (the most popular page, apparently), and many other pages continually refer to the limit being £5,000, not £10,000? I am currently making a claim for well over £5,000 and after the fees (£410 for MCOL and £335 for the court hearing + interest @8% from the date of the incident) it actually comes to in excess of £10,000.Am I missing something? The site says it was updated three weeks ago.

Our Response:
As stated in the article; 'All amounts stated below are accurate as at May 2008'. We will ensure the information is updated soon.
AboutSmallClaims - 27-Apr-17 @ 11:19 AM
Why does the web page entitled "Who Pays Court Costs and Fees?" (the most popular page, apparently), and many other pages continually refer to the limit being £5,000, not £10,000? I am currently making a claim for well over £5,000 and after the fees (£410 for MCOL and £335 for the court hearing + interest @8% from the date of the incident) it actually comes to in excess of £10,000. Am I missing something? The site says it was updated three weeks ago.
Buzz - 26-Apr-17 @ 1:52 PM
Im having issues with perfect homes. I've been paying for two items for two years, four months. I owe £550 in total. Would they take me to court for that amount?
Lyn - 1-Apr-17 @ 3:31 PM
I took my landlord to small claims court as they refused to pay back my deposit and that they never protected my deposit for 6 years. When I threatened with small claims court, they posted me a cheque for the deposit, I refused the cheque as I wanted to pursue court action . They then protected my deposit a month after I had ended my tenancy and vacated the property. When I attended court, the judge told me that I applied to late to claim for my deposit as I had already ended my tenancy and as I refused the cheque, which was the landlord offering a good will gesture doing so and that he admitted to not protecting my deposit, I lost my case. How it that fair, I did nothing wrong but he broke the law for6 years. Can anyone tell me if the judges decision was correct?
Sidmollie02 - 20-Feb-17 @ 9:16 PM
@Walker21111 - that's why people prefer to settle out of, or prior to court; to avoid the inflated court costs! But I suppose there has to be some deterrent for those who know they are guilty, but prefer to take the chance of going to court on the slim chance they will win. Rich.
RichNot - 9-Feb-17 @ 12:06 PM
So could anyone give me some advice, so I was taken to the small claims court for £380 and I accepted that I was owe this money to my factoring company but there's expenses of £329.94 plus 8% so it's nearly doubled,is this correct surly not? This is in Scotland so I know the laws are slightly different but is there a limit to expenses in the small claims court?
Walker21111 - 8-Feb-17 @ 4:37 PM
I am being threatened with the Small Claims Court in the sum of £3,000 by my Father-in-law for a gift he made to clear debts jointly owned by his son and me after we split and he was not contributing to agreed costs. As he is responsible for 50% of the debt, can I ask for his son to be joined to the claim?If so, at what stage is this done?
Sasasy - 20-Jan-17 @ 3:50 PM
Tedtoot1922 - Your Question:
Hi I'm owed £4000 from kindly helping a friend needing urgent house repairs. I was promised this back almost a year ago. And not received any payment. I have asked for payments in installments even offering to accept £50 a monthIf I take out CC J will he be liable for my court costs etc as I myself am now struggling financially? Thank you I know I can issue proceedings myself but require legal advice with forms etc

Our Response:
As specified in the article, the costs awarded may depend on a number of factors including the relative financial status of the parties and their behaviour before and during court proceedings. If any costs awarded by the judge do not cover the expenses actually incurred, the party will have to pay them out of their own pocket. Therefore, it is always worth making sure you have a strong case i.e your friend is financially solvent and you have proof to say your friend borrowed the money and was intending to pay it back.
AboutSmallClaims - 13-Jan-17 @ 11:22 AM
Hi I'm owed £4000 from kindly helping a friend needing urgent house repairs. I was promised this back almost a year ago. And not received any payment. I have asked for payments in installments even offering to accept £50 a month If I take out CC J will he be liable for my court costs etc as I myself am now struggling financially? Thank you I know I can issue proceedings myself but require legal advice with forms etc
Tedtoot1922 - 12-Jan-17 @ 11:28 AM
3 months ago I bought a van from a dealer on a monday with 12 months mot and on the following friday was told its mot was bogus and advised by a local garage it was dangerous to drive. I called the garage I bought it from and told them I wanted my money back and why. He asked me to drive it back but I explained its mot was false and was advertised the wishbone was worn out and was dangerous to drive so they came to collect it. Now they're sueing me for £1040 for vehicle collection. Where do I stand please.
scottp - 9-Dec-16 @ 7:55 PM
3 months ago Ibought a van on a monday with 12 months mot and on the riday was advised by a local garage it was dangerous to drive and it had a bent mot. I called the garage I bought it from and told them I wanted my money back and why. He asked me to drive it back but I explained its mot was false and was advisedthe wishbone was worn out and was dangerous to drive so they came to collect it. Now they're sueing me for £1040 for vehicle collection. Where do I stand please.
scottp - 9-Dec-16 @ 7:52 PM
Hi I will be very thankful, if someone can advise me. I am going through a court case with my landlady after vacating the property in a great condition. My deposit currently holding my deposit money until the decision has made. Landlady claimed for 3000 in her claim. I have a Mediation appointment soon. My question is, if I loose the case my deposit will be considered as part of the loss put forward by claimant or not ? I will be very thankful if someone can provide me information on this.
Khalil - 6-Dec-16 @ 11:20 PM
@Stella - direct bank transfer online would work. Or just tell them the check is at the Post Office!
PC99 - 12-Sep-16 @ 11:22 AM
Hi my husband was a claimant in a case and has to pay costs to the defendant of £500, he sent it by cheque Royal Mail signed for and they have not picked it up from the post office, they have issued a money claim online for the payment saying it hasn't been made what can we do? What is an acceptable method of payment, trying to make a payment? Thank you
Stella - 11-Sep-16 @ 9:26 AM
I'm likely to have to pay £250 to go in front of a judge to try and stay a CCJ that is statute barred, however couldn't respond in time so became a default judgement. Am I likely to be able to take the claimant (enforcement agency) to small claims court for those costs if the decision is made in my favour?
Franco66 - 19-Aug-16 @ 11:35 PM
@Hunnibear73 - situations such as this is why anyone who goes guarantor should beware. Unfortunately you/your daughter was the loser in this case and therefore subject to pay the case winner's court fees. The judge only agreed that £300 was the amount you should pay, so the judge still came down on the side of the landlord. Thankfully you didn't have to pay the £800 and court fees on top (which could have easily have been the case).
RichY - 8-Aug-16 @ 12:05 PM
I'm going to make a very long story short. I was guarantor for my daughter when she rented her last home. Basically after leaving her landlord said we owed him £800 for leaving the place in a bad condition, which was a load of lies as myself and family scrubbed from top to bottom. Anyway he took us to small claims. The judge said that he was asking to much and only awarded him a fraction of what he claimed around £300. I had offered to pay around £100 previously which he said no to. My question is, that I was right not to pay the £800 he asked for as the judge did sort of agree with me, and as he was only awarded part of his claim, why do I have to pay him back for his court costs, his time of work and his witnesses time of work ( the witness was not even needed). I feel that I was doomed either way. I now end up having to pay nearly £600.
Hunnibear73 - 7-Aug-16 @ 12:22 PM
My neighbour might take me to court to get a court order to get access to my land, if he wins his case who pays the legal fees?
johnboy - 3-Jul-16 @ 9:18 PM
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