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Costs > Damages

Costs > Damages

Postby Waingro » Sat Mar 19, 2016 9:28 pm

You are going to sue someone but you have calculated that the cost of suing them is likely to amount to more than the damages you will likely receive if you are successful.

Obviously if you are successful you can claim your costs back as well as your damages but are costs always recoverable, but what, if any, are circumstances when a judge will award damages to a claimant but not costs?

Is there a difference between costs, legal fees and witness fees or is costs simply a catch all term for all of the above?
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby dls » Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:03 am

First, there has to be a real question over the propriety of an action where the costs will exceed the damages. In essence there has to be some additional particular justification. Otherwise, such an action risks beig struck out as an abuse / not worth the candle.

There can be a wide discretion on costs, but such a discretion has to be used within acknowledged limits.
The term 'costs' ca be as wide as you say, including those elements.
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:49 am

dls wrote:First, there has to be a real question over the propriety of an action where the costs will exceed the damages...

Or perhaps the question is of why the costs need to be so high. For many people a hundred quid is a substantial sum, yet they would have bob hope of recovering it in court.

There ought to be a cheap and easy mechanism for dealing with small amounts.
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby Waingro » Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:00 pm

dls wrote:First, there has to be a real question over the propriety of an action where the costs will exceed the damages. In essence there has to be some additional particular justification. Otherwise, such an action risks beig struck out as an abuse / not worth the candle.

There can be a wide discretion on costs, but such a discretion has to be used within acknowledged limits.
The term 'costs' ca be as wide as you say, including those elements.


What sort of additional particular justification would suffice? Say someone wants to sue on the basis of principle, despite knowing that the small amount of damages they are seeking are not worth the effort, time and money spent trying to recover?
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:23 pm

Waingro wrote:Say someone wants to sue on the basis of principle..?

Forget it: the law's interest is only in money.
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby Waingro » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:54 pm

Yes, it is stupid to sue over principle but can someone be stopped by the court from doing so on the basis that their claim is worth less than their costs?
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby atticus » Sun Mar 20, 2016 4:03 pm

The simple point is that whichever party gets to the right value for the case first usually comes out better.

Low value claims are allocated to small claims track, where the amount of legal costs a losing party is ordered to pay is usually minimal, so in such a case the OP is right.
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby dls » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:45 pm

Look up 'not worth the candle" on Swarb.co.uk or bailii
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby Albert » Tue Nov 29, 2016 6:58 pm

I wonder could I tag a query onto this thread rather than start a new one. I've used an example but I suppose the matter could refer to any two parties in a similar situation.

A Council Tax Bill was not paid in full and the local council has started an action to recover the outstanding amount in the Small Claims Court. It happens all the time of course. The court papers list the remedy sought as being payment of the outstanding amount of Council Tax.

On receipt of the Claim Form the outstanding amount was paid. However the Council say they will now pursue for the court fees (This is a sum less than £50) to start the action in the first place despite the outstanding Council Tax being now paid in full.

Are these costs recoverable in this situation? After all, the move to court action was unilateral and the debt has been paid.
Can costs be just claimed or do they have to be awarded by the court?
What if the amount of those court fees to instigate the action is not paid - do the Council have to reissue a Claim Form for those Court Costs (the fee)?
In which case there would be (identical) costs to recover the original costs?

I hope that doesn't sound too highfalutin, but any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Re: Costs > Damages

Postby atticus » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:04 pm

Yes. Those court fees and scale costs can be recovered. And why not if the debt was only paid after service of court papers, after the claimant had had to go to the further expense.

Claimant enters judgment for the full amount claimed inc costs less whatever has since been paid.
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