Australia

Australia

Australian courts have wide discretion to award costs orders against either party to cover the opposing party’s costs of litigation. The general rule is that costs follow the event. This means that the unsuccessful party will be liable to pay the litigation costs of the successful party. The aim of this rule is to achieve a just outcome by shifting the costs burden on to the party which is found to have either unjustifiably brought another party before the court or given another party cause to have recourse to the court to obtain their rights. 

Where each litigant has enjoyed some success in the proceedings, courts may modify the general rule to make costs orders that reflect the litigants’ relative success and failure. Courts may depart from the general rule by requiring a successful party to bear their own costs where there is good cause to do so. Such an outcome may be justified where, for example, a successful plaintiff is awarded only nominal damages, or a party succeeds only due to late and substantial amendments to their case. 

Of particular strategic importance is the rule that generally a court will not award costs to a successful party which has obtained relief no more favorable than had already been offered by his or her opponent in settlement discussions. This rule is designed to encourage the early resolution of litigated disputes. 

Costs orders are subject to a costs assessment process administered by the courts. It is unusual that a party will be able to recover all of its actual legal costs through this process. On a standard assessment, parties may recover approximately 60% to 75% of their actual costs. A higher rate of assessment, on an indemnity basis, may be employed where a party has engaged in unreasonable conduct in the proceeding. 

All courts in Australia will charge fees for commencing civil proceedings (often referred to as a filing fee). Some jurisdictions, particularly superior courts, will also charge additional fees including but not limited to daily hearing fees (calculated by reference to the length of the trial), filing fees for notices of motions/applications and the issuing of subpoenas to third parties. These fees are set by the courts and are published on their websites. They are usually reviewed on a yearly basis. By way of example, the current (2019) rate for commencing proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia is AUD4,045 for corporations and the hearing fee for a five-day trial is AUD19,730 for corporations.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Austria

Austria

The Austrian civil procedure law provides a system of cost reimbursement. The unsuccessful party is required to reimburse the costs of the prevailing party; however, this is limited to costs that are necessarily incurred. The procedural costs are divided into court fees, legal fees (e.g. fees of legal representation) and party expenses. 

Court fees are subject to the Court Fees Act (Gerichtsgebührengesetz) and calculated on a graduated scale in accordance with the amount in dispute. Moreover, the costs also depend on the court where the proceedings are pending. In cases involving amounts in dispute exceeding EUR350,000, court fees for first instance proceedings are 1.2% of the amount in dispute. A separate calculation on court fees applies to appeal proceedings but this is also based on the amount in dispute. In a wider sense, court fees also comprise the fees and expenses of witnesses, court appointed experts and court interpreters.

The unsuccessful party is obliged to reimburse the court costs, but only to the degree prescribed in the Attorneys’ Fees Act (Rechtsanwaltstarifgesetz). The expenses of the parties are mostly travel expenses and loss of earnings as a consequence of their attendance in court. As an exception to the principle that the unsuccessful party is to pay the procedural costs, the court can, under certain circumstances, also oblige one party to bear the costs of the entire proceedings or of a certain phase of the proceedings regardless of its outcome.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Bahrain

Bahrain

The costs of litigation in Bahrain can be divided into translation fees (if any), court fees (which include court appointed expert fees) and lawyers’ fees. 

Court fees are deemed to include: 

  • claim registration fees. When submitting a statement of claim to the competent court, the party must pay a court fee of approximately 2.5% of the claim amount to the clerk of the court; and
  • expert fees, which will be subject to the court’s discretion and vary on a case-by-case basis. 

Legal and other fees (such as translation fees) are not included in court fees.

The competent court has the authority to award costs, including lawyers’ fees, to be paid by the unsuccessful party. The Bahrain courts usually order the losing party to bear the court fees; legal and other fees are determined based at the sole discretion of the court. In practice, where any fees (other than court fees) are awarded, they are minimal and do not reflect the actual legal (or other) costs incurred by a party. Generally, the fees that are awarded in this regard are less than USD600. 

If both parties are unsuccessful in their claims, the competent court has the discretion to rule that either: 

  • each party will bear the costs that they have incurred; or
  • the total costs will be divided between the two parties; or
  • one of the parties will bear the total costs.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Belgium

Belgium

The costs of civil proceedings are, in principle, small and consist of the costs for registering the writ of summons with court, which is EUR1,200 at most, and the costs of the bailiff for serving the writ of summons. The main expenses in proceedings are the lawyers’ fees and disbursements. 

The general principle is that the courts will order the unsuccessful party to:

  • indemnify the successful party for its costs; and
  • provide an indemnity for its own lawyers’ costs.

The indemnity for the lawyers’ costs is fixed and capped by statute in accordance with a scale set by a royal decree. In many cases, this scale results in the indemnity being less than the actual fees of the lawyer as the highest amount that can be indemnified against is EUR36,000. 

It should be noted that, when a judgment is rendered in Belgium, it has to be registered with the public administration and, at that stage, registration duties become payable. The registration fee is 3% of the principal amount a party is ordered to pay to its counterparty under a judgment (cfr. art. 142 of the Code on Registration Duties). The public administration normally claims these registration duties from the party who has been ordered to pay.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Brazil

Brazil

In Brazil, the unsuccessful party will be responsible for paying the litigation costs of the successful party. These litigation costs include:

  • the judicial fees; and
  • the other party’s attorney’s fees. 

The judicial fees vary in each state. In civil litigation cases, attorney’s fees will be fixed at minimum 10% and maximum 20% of the amount awarded in the judgment, the economic advantage of the party or, if it is impossible to measure it, of the total amount in dispute. Even though it is not common, the fees can be fixed at a lower rate in certain situations (for example, when the claim is dismissed). 

When awarding attorney’s fees, the judge will consider:

  • the length of the proceedings;
  • the nature of the claim;
  • the professional attention to the case;
  • the place where the service was performed; and
  • the work provided by the lawyers.

The criteria for deciding the amount to be paid for attorney’s fees comprise subjective elements, including the degree of professional attention to the case. In general terms, it is possible to consider that an attorney who has adopted a proactive approach in the lawsuit (e.g. the attorney has complied with the judicial requests in a timely manner, provided the necessary documents and evidence in order to guarantee a better quality of judicial decisions and has cooperated with the opposing party’s attorney) is considered to have a high degree of attention to the case. 

Finally, if the party is only partially successful, the courts may order a different percentage of the amount under dispute to be paid to each attorney based on the parties’ relative success or failure in the lawsuit.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Canada

Canada

Where a party to a Canadian proceeding is successful in obtaining relief in the proceeding (or in some interlocutory step in the proceeding, such as on a motion), the court will generally require any parties that opposed the relief to pay a portion of the successful party’s costs, namely, legal fees and disbursements (e.g. photocopying expenses, process server fees, experts’ fees, etc.). 

Where the parties have had partial success in the proceeding (or some step in the proceeding), courts may award costs having regard to the parties’ relative success. Though it happens rarely, courts may decline to award a successful party its costs where the court finds that the successful party’s conduct was objectionable. 

It is unusual that a successful party will recover all of its costs from the opposing parties. By default, a successful party is entitled to costs on a partial indemnity or party-and-party basis. Costs on a partial indemnity basis are typically 40-50% of the successful party’s actual legal costs. In rare circumstances, parties may recover costs on a substantial indemnity or solicitor-and-client basis. Where this is the case, the successful party may be awarded 60-75% of its actual legal costs. Substantial indemnity costs may be awarded where the conduct of the unsuccessful party was reprehensible (as might be the case where an unsuccessful plaintiff’s accusations of fraud were found to be completely devoid of merit, or where the conduct of an unsuccessful party unnecessarily increased the time and expense of the proceedings). 

Where a party rejects an offer to settle, and then obtains a result at trial that is equal to or less favorable than the rejected offer, adverse costs consequences will normally accrue to the party. The rationale behind this approach is that the party rejecting the offer did not obtain a better result at trial and unnecessarily caused all parties to incur the additional expense of trial. 

Court fees (i.e. fees paid directly to the court for such steps as commencing a lawsuit, defending a lawsuit, or bringing a motion) are generally not more than CAD400 per procedural step. A party that succeeds in its lawsuit (or on some smaller step in the lawsuit, such as a motion) is generally able to recover its court fees from the unsuccessful parties.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Chile

Chile

In Chile, the unsuccessful party may be responsible for paying the litigation costs of the successful party. Litigation costs include:

  • the judicial fees; and
  • the other party’s attorney’s fees. 

When awarding attorney’s fees, the judge may consider:

  • the length of the proceedings;
  • the nature of the claim and complexity of the proceedings;
  • the professional attention to the case and degree of involvement; and
  • the work and study provided by the lawyers. 

Unlike some other jurisdictions, in Chile the costs are usually very low without representing the costs and expenses that the parties have actually incurred.

Last modified 14 Jan 2020

China

China

Pursuant to Article 13 of the Measure on the Payment of Litigation Costs, the claimant shall pay the case acceptance fees to the court at the time of filing the claim within seven days of the court's notification of payment. The acceptance fees are calculated by reference to the sum in dispute (or pursuant to the relevant laws if it is a non-property case). For example, for a monetary case where the sum in dispute is CNY1 million, the case acceptance fee would amount to CNY13,800 and would be calculated by adding together the costs under each of the staggered tiers, as set out below:

The amount claimed Applicable rate  Fees
For any amount no more than CNY10,000 A fixed fee CNY50
For any amount above CNY10,000 but no more than CNY100,000 2.5%

CNY2,250

(90,000 x 2.5% )

For any amount above CNY100,000 but no more than CNY200,000 2%

CNY2,000

(100,000 x 2%)

For any amount above CNY200,000 but no more than CNY500,000 1.5%

CNY4,500

(300,000 x 1.5%)

For any amount above CNY500,000 but no more than CNY1 million 1%

CNY5,000

(500,000 x 1%)

Total case acceptance fees: CNY13,800

Additional costs might be incurred if evidence is obtained outside of the PRC as translation, notarization and legalization of the evidence would be required. The court acceptance fees and such out-of-pocket expenses would be paid by the unsuccessful party.

A court will also charge when a party requests it to enforce a judgment, an interim relief order or an arbitral award. Such fees are also calculated by reference to the sum in dispute.

Similar to the principle of “costs follow the event” in common law jurisdictions, as a general principle, the costs of an action are usually awarded to the successful party. However, lawyers’ fees fall entirely within the discretion of the court. The court may wish to follow the recommended fee scale issued by the government, which might be significantly lower than the actual lawyers’ fees. If the scale is used, the successful party may only be able to recover part of its lawyer’s fees.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Finland

Finland

The costs of litigation can be divided into court fees and legal fees, the latter creating the most significant part of the costs. In a general civil law case, the court fee amounts to EUR510 in all court phases (EUR510 per court phase, i.e. a total of EUR1,530 if the case proceeds to the Supreme Court). The unsuccessful party will usually be ordered to reimburse all reasonable legal costs (i.e. lawyer’s fees and disbursements) of the winning party.

Where several claims have been made in the same case and some have been decided in favor of one party and others in favor of the other, the parties are, as a general rule, liable for their own legal costs. The court may modify this rule to reflect the parties’ relative success and failure in the case. It is important to note that based on Supreme Court practice, there is a rule pursuant to which a court will not award costs to a successful party if the relief generally obtained is no more favorable than an offer that has been made by its opponent in the settlement negotiations.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

France

France

In theory, the successful party is entitled to ask the court to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse its legal costs (pursuant to Article 700 of the French Code of Civil Procedure). However, except in cases where a party proves to be of particularly bad faith, judges are reluctant to award costs on an indemnity basis and the reimbursement of legal fees rarely covers the lawyers’ fees in full. In most cases, the court fees will rarely exceed EUR10,000 (except for matters relating to intellectual property or annulment appeals of arbitration awards, where the court fees to be expected are closer to the incurred fees).

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Germany

Germany

The costs of litigation in Germany can be divided into court fees and lawyer's fees. As German law adheres to the loser pays rule, the losing party is liable for the court fees and the other party's statutory legal fees. The court and lawyer's fees principally depend on the amount in dispute. For instance, if the amount in dispute is EUR10,000, the court fees for the first instance proceedings are approximately EUR723 and for the first appeal are approximately EUR964. The statutory legal fees for each lawyer would amount to EUR1,500. Where higher amounts are in dispute, the court fees become higher than the statutory lawyer's fees. For the purposes of calculating the recoverable costs, the value in dispute is capped at EUR30 million on which sum the first instance lawyer's fees would be capped at EUR230,000 for each party and court fees at EUR330,000. In addition to these fees, disbursements for expert witnesses and ordinary witnesses are also recoverable.

Parties without sufficient funds may apply for a grant of legal aid. Parties may retain their lawyers on the basis of hourly rates. However, in the case of court proceedings, these fees will usually exceed  the statutory fees described above.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong courts have wide discretion to award costs orders against a party in order to cover the opposing party’s costs of litigation. The general rule is that the unsuccessful party will be liable to pay the legal costs of the successful party. Where each litigant has enjoyed some success in the proceedings, courts may modify the general rule to make costs orders that reflect the litigants’ relative success.

Costs orders are subject to a costs assessment process administered by the courts. It is unusual that a party will be able to recover all of its actual legal costs through this process. On a standard assessment, a successful party may recover approximately 60-70% of their actual costs. However, in certain circumstances, the courts may order the costs to be assessed on a more generous basis (such as on a common fund basis or indemnity basis) where the court is of the view that the successful party should recover a greater proportion of the costs it has incurred (such as when the opposing party has engaged in unreasonable conduct in the proceeding). If the parties cannot agree on the costs to be paid, the party which is awarded costs can proceed to have the costs assessed by the court (also known as taxation of costs).

In terms of fees payable to the courts, in general a claimant will only need to pay a nominal amount (approximately USD80 to USD130) in court fees to commence a civil action in Hong Kong. However, if the court is subsequently required by any party to undertake a taxation of costs, a taxing fee calculated on a sliding scale, generally at around 2-5% of the amount of legal costs claimed, will also be payable to the court by the party requesting the taxation.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Hungary

Hungary

When filing the statement of claim, the plaintiff must pay a court fee, which is a certain percentage of the claim’s value, or a lump sum if the value cannot be determined. The court fee is capped at HUF1.5 million (approximately EUR4,500) in the first instance proceedings, at HUF2.5 million (approximately EUR8,000) in the second instance, and at HUF 4.5 million (approximately EUR14,000) in the Curia’s extraordinary revision proceedings. During the proceedings, further court fees may be incurred (e.g. fees of judicial experts, translation costs) that have to be advanced and deposited by the party for whose interest the costs are incurred. Moreover, during the litigation, the parties have to pay their own costs, which are included in the procedural costs.

The court decides on the procedural costs at the end of the proceedings on the basis of the parties’ winning/losing ratio. In principle, the losing party bears all the procedural costs, including the costs advanced by the successful party during the course of the proceedings. Legal fees are usually awarded by applying a calculation which progressively follows the case value. In practice this means that, in high-profile cases, lawyers’ fees cannot usually be recovered in full by the successful party.

In some cases, irrespective of the outcome of the proceedings, the court may grant some relief from the procedural costs. This may be either due to exceptional personal reasons or the nature of the subject of the proceedings. In these circumstances, the court might relieve the party from the requirement to advance and / or bear any procedural costs, or in the alternative, from advancing and / or bearing court fees.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Italy

Italy

Generally, the unsuccessful party is ordered to pay the other party's legal costs (including the attorney's fees). The amount to be paid is decided by the court and usually represents only a portion of the legal costs actually incurred.

If the losing party has commenced or carried out civil proceedings in gross negligence or in bad faith, the successful party can claim damages caused by the counterparty's behavior (art. 96 Italian Code of Civil Procedure).

As a general rule, Italian law does not provide for punitive damages.

Court fees vary depending on the amount in dispute and the stage of the proceedings (i.e. first instance, appeal or appeal to the Supreme Court Cassazione). They range from approximately EUR40 to EUR4,000.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Ireland

Ireland

Court fees are fixed by orders of the different Courts and the level of court fees depends on the court in which the action is raised. An updated list of fees can be found here.

Subject to certain exceptions, the general rule is that the successful party is entitled to recover its costs from the unsuccessful party (in addition to any damages awarded by the court). However, a party will rarely recover all of their legal costs. The successful party can normally expect to recover around 60 – 70% of the total costs incurred. However the court has wide discretion in respect of costs, and may depart from the general rule depending on the circumstances of the case (e.g. if only nominal damages have been awarded).

Last modified 27 May 2021

Japan

Japan

In litigation, court costs comprise:

  • court fees (calculated by reference to the sums claimed and paid by the claimant at the time of filing, e.g. the fee payable in a claim worth JPY10 million (c. EUR79,000) would be JPY50,000 (c. EUR400));
  • experts’ fees; and
  • costs of other services required for the court proceedings.

As a general rule, the losing party will be ordered to bear these court costs at the time of judgment. However, in cases where the claimant is successful on only part of its claim, costs will be apportioned between the parties by reference to the outcome. A court may order all successful parties to pay a certain amounts of costs in the interests of fairness. Moreover, lawyers’ fees are not included in court costs; legal fees are merely regarded as one element of the damages to be claimed. In most cases, the amount of legal fees that can be claimed is limited to a maximum of 10% of the total damages awarded and is payable in addition to those damages.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Kuwait

Kuwait

The costs of litigation in Kuwait can be divided into court fees and legal fees. Court fees are usually in proportion to the amount claimed. In some cases these fees are fixed (generally employment matters or if no particular sum is claimed) and in others, they are levied at 2.5% of the first KWD10,000 plus 1% of any amount claimed above KWD10,000.

The party against whom a judgment is given will usually be required to reimburse the opposing party’s legal fees and pay the court fees. However, the amount of the legal fees awarded is at the sole discretion of the judge. In practice, such amount is nominal and does not reflect the actual legal costs or expenses. The fees granted by the judge will cover the fees paid to the court as well as lawyer fees, which range from KWD50 to KWD500.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Mexico

Mexico

The Mexican Constitution provides that all courts must administer justice for free. In commercial matters, the parties do not bear any court fees. Equally, parties are not responsible for the expenses incurred by factual witnesses. If a party offers an expert witness, the offering party shall bear its fees. If the judge requests an additional expert witness, its fees are equally divided between the parties.

Litigation costs in Mexico will mainly include (i) legal fees; (ii) translator fees; and (iii) day-to-day administrative expenses. Such litigation costs are allocated in the judgment. The allocation of costs will depend on whether the claim specifies the quantum in dispute:

  • where the amount is specified by the claimant (e.g. a monetary claim for damages), the court will attribute between 6% to 8% of such amount to costs to be paid by the unsuccessful party;
  • where the claim (and subsequent judgment) does not have a specific amount (e.g. order for specific performance, injunctive relief), the court will order the unsuccessful party to pay a set fee, which will depend on the number of pages filed during the proceeding.

It is uncommon for the first instance judge to order one party to pay litigation costs. In most cases, litigation costs are allocated and ordered by the second instance courts.

If a party acts in bad faith, tries to delay or delays the proceedings on purpose, the judge may take this into account and order payment of a higher percentage of costs and legal fees incurred by the other party. There is no interest awarded on costs.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Netherlands

Netherlands

The costs of litigation in the Netherlands can be divided into court fees, bailiff fees and legal fees.

The court fees depend on: (i) the claimed amount; and (ii) the capacity of parties. At the district courts, court fees range between EUR79 (for persons of limited means) and EUR3,894 (for corporate entities and claims over EUR100,000). Court fees are higher at courts of appeal, ranging between EUR314 and EUR5,213. Bailiff fees vary between EUR50 and EUR300.

The party against whom the judgment is given will usually be summoned to reimburse the opposite party’s court fees. Furthermore, a fixed amount will be awarded as a reimbursement for legal fees. This amount depends on the number of procedural acts involved and is usually only a fraction of the actual legal fees (amounts between EUR500 for straightforward proceedings and EUR15,000 are common). The exception is proceedings regarding intellectual property. In such proceedings, the actual legal fees of the succeeding party must be reimbursed.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand courts have wide discretion to award costs orders against either party to cover the opposing party’s costs of litigation.  The general rule is that "costs follow the event".  This means that the unsuccessful party will be liable to pay the litigation costs of the successful party. 

Costs are awarded based on a scale set under the relevant procedural rules (usually the High Court Rules in a commercial case).  This provides set amounts for each step in the proceedings on one of three bases – simple, standard or complex.  Generally a party will recover approximately one third of its actual costs.

Courts may depart from the general rule in various circumstances and have a wide discretion over costs, for example: 

  • Where each litigant has enjoyed some success in the proceedings, courts may modify the general rule to make costs orders that reflect the litigants' relative success and failure.
  • Increased costs may be ordered where the party opposing costs has contributed unnecessarily to the time or expense of the proceedings; or the party has refused to accept an offer of settlement that is more than the party ultimately recovered.
  • Indemnity (actual) costs may be awarded where a party has acted vexatiously, there is a contractual entitlement to indemnity costs, or the person in whose favour the costs order is made was not a party to the proceedings. 

There are also various court fees that apply for the filing of proceedings, and for hearing charges.

Last modified 20 Dec 2019

Norway

Norway

The general rule in Norwegian civil proceedings is that the successful party is entitled fully to recover its reasonable and necessary legal costs from the unsuccessful party. That general rule may be departed from in certain circumstances, including:

  • if the court decides that the unsuccessful party had good reason for having the case tried;
  • the successful party rejected a reasonable settlement offer; or
  • if the successful party is otherwise sufficiently culpable for the dispute not having been resolved out of court.

If there is no clear successful party in the proceedings, Norwegian courts will usually order parties to bear their own legal costs.

The court fees vary depending on the length of the proceedings, and are subject to a minor adjustment each year. The court fee for admission to the District Court is NOK5,650 (for 2018). This includes the first day in the court. If the trial does not end with a judgment (e.g. due to settlement), the fee will be reduced. The fee for interim relief is NOK2,825.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Poland

Poland

The costs of legal proceedings in Poland are generally low. The general rule in commercial cases is that when a case is filed, the claimant has to pay the court fees. The court fees are 5% of the value of the dispute, but court fees are capped at a PLN-equivalent of the amount EUR50,000. The same court fees apply to appeal and cassation proceedings. In principle, the unsuccessful party pays the costs of the legal proceedings (court fees, attorneys’ fees, and other expenses such as experts’ fees). However, the amount granted by the judge for attorneys’ fees must be within the limit prescribed by law and may not exceed six times the minimum rate (see below). The reasons for an increased rate may include:

  • the case is complicated;
  • the attorney’s workload was heavy; or
  • the value of the litigation.

In practice, courts often award the minimum rate. For instance, if the subject of a dispute is between EUR500,000 and EUR1.25 million, the minimum rate is EUR3,750 and the maximum rate is EUR22,500, and if the subject of a dispute is above EUR1.25 million, the minimum rate is EUR6,250 and the maximum rate is EUR37,500. Experts’ fees are also subject to regulation and are very low (usually between EUR1,000 and EUR7,000). The question of costs is decided in the last phase of judicial proceedings at the time of the judgment.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Qatar

Qatar

Court fees (including experts’ fees) are generally recoverable by the successful party in Qatari court proceedings, but only a nominal amount will be awarded for lawyers’ fees. Where neither party has been entirely successful in their claims, the court may decide that each party shall bear its own costs. The prevailing party may be ordered to pay some or all of its costs if:

  • the claim was undisputed by the defendant;
  • the prevailing party caused unnecessary costs to be incurred; or
  • the prevailing party failed to provide its opponent with the documents (or its contents) which the court deems to be conclusive in the matter.

The court fees payable for claims vary depending on the nature and value of the claim. The applicable court fees are also routinely amended and are not readily accessible on a centralized court website. The best source of information on current court fees is local counsel, who will be able to search the relevant court website. However, it is possible to estimate that where the claim is valued at QAR100,000 (c. USD27,000) or more, the fees will be approximately QAR3,000 (c. USD810). The fees for smaller claims are usually calculated as a percentage of the value of the claim itself. Claims before the Court of Cassation incur a fee of QAR25,000 (c. USD6,750), while claims before the Execution Court incur a fee of up to QAR1,000 (c. USD270).

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Romania

Romania

The costs of litigation in Romania include court fees (approximately between 1% and 10% of the value of the claim), fees related to the production of evidence (e.g. expert reports) and lawyers’ fees. As a general rule, court fees are paid by the claimant, fees related to the production of evidence are paid by the party that proposed the evidence, and lawyers’ fees are paid by each party.

The court may order the losing party to cover the opposing party’s costs of litigation. If the position of one of the parties is accepted in full, the court can only reduce the amount payable by the losing party for the successful party’s lawyers’ fees when they are considered disproportionate to the complexity and the value of the case.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Russia

Russia

The costs of litigation in Russia can be divided, practically speaking, into court fees (state duty, expert fees, etc.) and legal fees.

Court fees tend to be nominal; however, they depend on various factors, such as, the amount of the claim, the nature of claim, and the involvement of experts. State duty ranges between RUB6,000 (approximately USD100) for non-pecuniary claims and a maximum amount of RUB200,000 (approximately USD3,000) for state duty monetary claims.

The party against whom the judgment was made should reimburse the opposing party’s court fees. Reimbursement for legal fees is also possible. In practice, however, it is often the case that only a fraction of the actual legal fees is reimbursed.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

There are no charges for filing or appealing a claim in any Saudi court at the date of writing this report. Generally, each party bears its own lawyers' fees. However, it is possible to claim reimbursement of a party's legal fees, and it is under the judge's discretion to award the amount they see fit or to reject the claim.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Spain

Spain

The costs of the proceedings comprise of the court fees for litigation, lawyers’ fees, the fees of the legal representative and any fees incurred by experts (where relevant).

Each party is liable for the expenses and costs of the proceedings incurred at its request, which might include:

  • those disbursements which originate directly from, or are immediately rooted in, the existence of the proceedings; and
  • the party’s costs relating to the payment of the fees of lawyers and legal representatives or deposits required for the submission of appeals (for example, the deposit for filing an appeal is EUR50).

The deposit and court fees for litigation are mandatory, fixed by law and payable when the claimant files its claim form. The amount of court fees varies depending on the type of proceeding and ranges between EUR150 and EUR1,200. The fee for ordinary proceedings is EUR300. Court fees are not usually reimbursed.

Court fees are fixed and must be paid for going to court and making use of the public service of the administration of justice though there are some exemptions (e.g. in cases which involve a decision in respect of fundamental rights). The events triggering the payment of a court fee in civil cases include:

  • commencing a civil claim or enforcement proceedings in respect of an out-of-court settlement; or
  • filing a counterclaim.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Sweden

Sweden

Court fees are low in Sweden (about EUR300). Payment of this court fee is made by claim, meaning that it will need to be paid once:

  • by the claimant when filing the writ of summons; and
  • by the defendant when (and if) filing a counterclaim.

Aside from the court fee for application, there are no more fees to the court in civil proceedings.

In terms of recovery of attorney fees and other disbursements the losing party will usually have to pay all of its own costs and the reasonable costs incurred by the opposite party. If the parties are successful and unsuccessful on different issues of the case, the court may order them to cover the costs pro rata in accordance with their relative success, or carry their own costs.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Thailand

Thailand

A fee must be paid to the court by the claimant to file a claim. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the claim value: 2% of the first THB50 million, up to a maximum of THB200,000, and 0.1% on any amount above that figure. Most fees can now be paid online.

The court has discretion to make awards of costs to the prevailing party, and in principle court fees are recoverable in the event of a successful claim. However, the legal fees recoverable by the successful party are only nominal. In fixing the amount of lawyers’ fees, the court must have due regard to the complexity of the case and the time spent and amount of work done by the lawyer in handling the matter.

The maximum amount that can be recovered for legal fees is generally not more than THB500,000. It is often much less.

The defendant can apply to the court for an order requiring the claimant to deposit money or security with the court for costs and expenses if either:

  • the claimant is not domiciled or does not have a business office situated in Thailand and does not have assets in Thailand; or
  • there is a strong reason to believe the claimant will evade payment of costs and expenses, if it is unsuccessful.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

UK - England & Wales UK - England & Wales

UK - England & Wales

Court fees for commencing a claim vary, but are broadly proportionate to the size of the claim. For example, the court fee for a claim of up to GBP300 is GBP35 or GBP25 if filed online. For a claim of between GBP10,000.01 and GBP100,000, the court fee is 5.0% of the total claim amount and for a claim for in excess of GBP200,000 it is a flat fee of GBP10,000. The costs incurred by each party will vary from case to case, depending on factors such as the value and complexity of the case, the duration of the case and the costs associated with their legal representatives.

As a general rule, the successful party in a litigation will recover its costs from the unsuccessful party. However, the court has a wide discretion to order otherwise. Where each litigant has enjoyed some success in the proceedings, courts may make costs orders that reflect the litigants’ relative success. Courts can also depart from the general rule by requiring a successful party to bear their own costs where there is good cause to do so (e.g. when a successful claimant is awarded only nominal damages). 

Where a party who has made an offer to settle under the CPR’s Part 36 (Offers to settle) regime achieves a result which is better than the offer it made, it may recover more in costs than would otherwise have been the case. Conversely, if a party’s costs have exceeded any budget which it has been required to submit to the court, it may be penalized for doing so. Successful parties will almost never recover all of their legal costs, which are assessed to establish whether they are proportionate and reasonably incurred.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

UK - Scotland

UK - Scotland

Costs are called expenses in Scotland. Expenses are awarded at the court’s discretion, although the general rule is that they follow success. The unsuccessful party will ordinarily have to pay the successful party’s costs.

Expenses recoverable in the Scottish system are determined by reference to a statutory Table of Fees. This allows a block fee to be claimed for each element of the legal work undertaken in the case or the charging of a lawyer’s time by reference to a fixed rate.

Generally the Table of Fees allows the successful party to recover up to 60-65% of their actual costs, although in commercial cases it is often less than that. To compensate for this deficit, enhanced costs can be awarded in complex cases via an additional fee procedure.

The level of court fees depends upon the court in which the action is raised. The Court of Session, as the superior court, incurs higher fees than the Sheriff Court. Fees are generally payable by each party to the action. The fees are set out in Scottish Statutory Instruments (referred to as a Fee Orders). These are regularly updated by Fee Amendment Orders.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

The DIFC court rules provide the court with considerable discretion when it comes to making orders as to costs. However, the general rule is that the unsuccessful party will be responsible for settling some part of the successful party’s costs, and generally, any court fees that party has incurred. The court must have regard to all the circumstances when making an order as to costs. This includes consideration of the degree of success of the cases of the parties, their conduct during the proceedings and any offers to settle. There is also potential for the DIFC court to make no order as to costs. This is usually where the DIFC court finds that the merits of each party’s case are balanced.

The DIFC court will assess the amount of costs due to the successful party on either a standard or indemnity basis. Where costs are assessed on the standard basis, the court will:

  • only allow costs which are proportionate to the matters in issue to be recovered; and
  • resolve any doubt which it may have as to whether costs were reasonably incurred or reasonable and proportionate in amount in favor of the paying party.

On the other hand, where costs are assessed on an indemnity basis, any doubt as to whether costs had been reasonably incurred or are reasonable and proportionate in amount is interpreted in favor of the successful party.

It is also worth noting that the DIFC court is empowered to issue an interim costs order in favor of a party. These costs orders will usually reflect 50% of the costs incurred by the party, or what the court believes is the minimum it will recover.

The ADGM court rules, although somewhat less extensive than the DIFC court rules on costs and their recovery, broadly follow the framework of the DIFC court rules.

Each of the DIFC and ADGM courts have fee schedules relating to court proceedings and applications that are updated on a regular basis. There are a number of fees applicable to a claim including filing fees, application fees and hearing fees.

For substantive claims, and in general, fees are calculated on claim and counterclaim values and expressed as a lump sum plus a percentage.

At the time of writing (March 2019):

  • the DIFC court fees for money and / or property claims were:

Claim Value

Fee

Up to and including USD500,000

5% of the value of the claim and/or the property with a minimum of USD1,500
USD500,000-USD1 million

USD25,000 + 1% over USD500,000

USD1 million-USD5 million

USD30,000 + 0.5% over USD1 million

USD5 million-USD10 million

USD50,000 + 0.4% over USD5 million

USD10 million-USD50 million

USD70,000 + 0.15% over USD10 million

Over USD50 million USD130,000
  • the ADGM court fees for money and/or property claims were:

Claim Value

Fee
USD100,001-USD500,000 2.5% of the value of the claim

USD500,000-USD1 million

USD12,500 + 2% over USD500,000
USD1 million-USD5 million USD22,500 + 0.5% over USD1 million

USD5 million-USD10 million

USD42,500 + 0.25% over USD5 million

Over USD10 million

USD55,000 + 0.15% over USD10 million to a maximum of USD65,000

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

United States

United States

Applicable procedural rules in most state and federal courts provide for costs (not attorneys’ fees) to be awarded to the prevailing party following entry of final judgment. Costs eligible for recovery, which usually range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, include:

  • court filing fees;
  • fees for serving process;
  • witness fees and transportation expenses;
  • transcript preparation fees;
  • copying fees; and
  • compensation for court-appointed experts and interpreters.

Attorney’s fees and other costs (e.g. expert witness fees) are recoverable in only limited circumstances. For instance, fees may be expressly authorized by the statute under which a particular claim is being litigated, or a contract between the parties may authorize the court to award them. When authorized, the amount of fees awarded varies depending on the claim at issue and the complexity of the case. In simple cases, a fee award may be limited to a few thousand dollars. In highly complex litigation, courts have awarded fees ranging into the millions of dollars.

Last modified 19 Jul 2019

Australia’s courts operate under the common law legal system. Australia has a federal system of government, with legislative power divided between the federal branch of government and six state and two territory governments (for ease, we refer collectively to the states and territories as the state or states). Australia’s courts are similarly divided into eight separate state jurisdictions and a federal jurisdiction, which each operate on a parallel but independent hierarchy of courts. State and federal courts broadly have jurisdiction over the application of legislation enacted by the state and federal parliaments respectively. The High Court of Australia is the ultimate court of appeal in Australia for all court systems. There are also tribunals created by specific legislation under state and federal jurisdictions.

In each state or territory of Australia, specific legislation imposes a time period before the end of which proceedings must be commenced for a claim or dispute. 

The specific legislation is: 

  • Limitation Act 1985 (ACT)
  • Limitation Act 1981 (NT)
  • Limitation Act 1969 (NSW)
  • Limitation of Actions Act 1974 (QLD)
  • Limitation of Actions Act 1936 (SA)
  • Limitation Act 1974 (TAS)
  • Limitation of Actions Act 1958 (VIC)
  • Limitation Act 2005 (WA) 

These time periods vary from state to state and depend upon the type of claim. A failure to issue proceedings before the relevant time period expires is likely to result in that claim becoming time barred. 

In most Australian states, actions in simple contract or tort must be brought within six years of either the date of breach (contract) or the date on which loss was incurred (tort). 

The limitation period may be extended in some circumstances, for example where someone with legal incapacity (such as a minor or a person of unsound mind) has entered into a contract. Some jurisdictions also permit for the limitation period to be extended at the court’s discretion.

The process of litigation is broadly similar across Australian courts. Proceedings are initiated by a claim or application, which must be filed in the relevant court and served on all parties to the proceeding. Parties will then exchange pleadings (such as statements of claim, defenses, counterclaims, and replies) which define the parameters of the dispute between the parties and the specific issues which are to be proved by each party. Timeframes for the progression of litigation are found in the civil procedure rules applicable in each jurisdiction. Generally, a defense must be filed within 28 days of service of a statement of claim. 

For proceedings in the Federal Court, parties are required to file a genuine steps statement, which outlines the steps taken to make a sincere and genuine attempt to resolve the dispute prior to commencing litigation. Superior courts in the states may also require a party to litigation to provide details of attempts made to resolve a dispute before proceedings were commenced.  

Once the exchange of pleadings is complete, parties will generally undertake the discovery (also known as the disclosure) process, and then go on to prepare their evidence for a final hearing of the dispute. It is common, particularly in complex litigation, for the parties to be obliged to attend court at regular intervals for directions hearings, in which orders are given to manage the conduct and timeframes of the case up until its final hearing. 

Timeframes for each stage of proceedings vary greatly with the complexity and case management style of an individual matter and the specific jurisdiction in which the case is commenced. Each superior court in the states has in place specific practice notes or directions for the conduct of commercial disputes with the aim of ensuring that those commercial disputes are resolved in the most cost-effective and time-efficient manner possible. Generally, across all jurisdictions, parties will have 28 days from receipt of a claim to put on a defense. As noted above, the timetable from that point of time will depend on the nature of the dispute.  

A straightforward commercial contract dispute will normally, court resources permitting, be resolved within 12 months. 

Most state and federal courts require a corporate entity to be represented by a lawyer (which could include a lawyer employed by a company). Some jurisdictions dealing with small claims / employment issues may allow a company to appear by its director. Individuals may appear on their own behalf in most jurisdictions without a lawyer.

In Australia, the discovery process is designed to allow parties to civil litigation to obtain from an opponent all documents relevant to the issues in dispute. Australian courts strictly prohibit “fishing expeditions” through discovery. Discovery is usually undertaken after the close of pleadings (although in some courts in some states this may not be permitted until after evidence is complete) when the points of dispute between the parties have crystallized. Discovery may however be ordered, in limited circumstances, prior to the commencement of proceedings where an applicant is able to satisfy the court that he or she needs to obtain discovery in order to find out whether or not a cause of action exists against a potential defendant.  

The practice of disclosure varies between those jurisdictions which mandate a general right of discovery and those in which the right is more limited. In the Northern Territory and the states of South Australia and Queensland, parties have a mandatory duty of disclosure which is discharged by the exchange of lists or copies of discoverable documents. In Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, a party may, by written notice to another party, require that party to make general discovery. In the Federal Court of Australia and New South Wales, the right to discovery is limited and requires an order of the court and will usually be limited to specific categories.  

There have been recent attempts by some of the states’ superior courts to more tightly control the disclosure process. For example, the preparation of disclosure plans (which identify the categories of documents to be disclosed and how they will be disclosed), and the courts ordering that discovery being provided after the exchange of written evidence with a view to limiting the number of documents to be exchanged. 

In the Federal Court and most state courts, discovery can be ordered to be made by non-parties to the dispute where the court is satisfied as to the likelihood of the non-party having relevant documents. Courts in Australia will also generally permit the issuing of subpoenas to produce documents to non-parties to litigation and this process will be more straightforward than seeking non-party disclosure orders. 

Default judgment can be applied for in proceedings in any court where a defendant does not:

  • file a defense within the specified timeframe after a statement of claim has been served; or
  • fails to make an appearance at a hearing.

Once a default judgment is ordered against a defendant, a defendant can, in limited circumstances, seek to challenge the granting of judgment by default. The defendant will need to file an application or motion to set aside the default judgment within a specified period of time and show cause for why (usually lack of notice of the claim or that notice was given of intent to defend but that notice was not brought to the attention of the court which granted the default judgment) the judgment should be set aside.

Judgments of civil courts in Australia can be appealed to a superior court. Civil procedure legislation in each jurisdiction sets out the rules and procedure for appeals. Ordinarily, it will be necessary to seek leave from the superior court to appeal. The Court of Appeal in each state, and the Full Federal Court, are the ultimate courts of appeal for each of those jurisdictions. Cases that emanate from the Federal Circuit Court are appealable to the Federal Court and then the Full Federal Court, whereas matters emanating from a State Magistrates Court are appealable to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Decisions made by the District Court (County Court in certain states) are appealable to the Supreme Court and decisions of the Supreme Court can be appealed to the state’s Court of Appeal. The High Court of Australia hears appeals from courts of appeal (sometimes referred to as the full court) in all jurisdictions, and has limited original jurisdiction (which predominantly relates to constitutional matters). 

Parties generally, depending on the jurisdiction, have 28 days from the date of judgment or final order, to lodge an appeal in a civil matter to the relevant appeal court. Appeals will generally, because of the limitation of introducing new evidence in most civil appeals, be resolved more quickly than matters at first instance. Most appeals of civil matters will be heard and judgment given within six to eight months from commencement of the appeal. 

All superior Australian courts have a wide power and discretion to grant both interlocutory orders and interlocutory injunctions. An interlocutory application, generally speaking, is an application which seeks any order other than a final judgment. 

As in other jurisdictions, interlocutory injunctions are a species of interlocutory orders. Where those orders are sought on an urgent and temporary basis until a more extended form of relief is sought, they are often referred to as interim orders. 

Interlocutory orders (including interlocutory injunctions) can require a party to undertake or refrain from a particular act, and can be granted before proceedings have commenced, once they are on foot and after judgment has been entered. Applications for these types of orders may be made by self-represented litigants or through legal representation. 

The categories of non-urgent interlocutory orders that an applicant may seek are many and varied and include, by way of example, applications for security for costs, discovery (including preliminary discovery before proceedings have been commenced), the filing of expert evidence or orders for particulars, The evidence required to obtain non-urgent interlocutory orders will turn on the type of orders sought, although at the very least substantive interlocutory applications usually require a sworn affidavit to be filed. 

The kinds of relief that can be sought by way of an urgent interlocutory injunction are equally varied. This is because the orders have the purpose of preserving the status quo until the rights of the parties can be determined finally, and the types of matters that can be heard by the court are vast. Common urgent interlocutory injunctions include applications for the preservation of property, the freezing of assets and applications to search premises to preserve evidence.

An applicant for an interlocutory injunction (either urgent or not) must prove that: 

  • there is a serious question of law to be tried;
  • the balance of convenience favors the granting of the injunction; and
  • an award of damages (at the conclusion of the proceeding) would not be an adequate remedy. 

It is possible for urgent interlocutory injunction applications to be heard by the court ex parte, without the opposing party’s involvement. Any orders given ex parte will generally operate only for a limited period of time until the matter can be brought to a hearing. The duration of any ex parte order will ordinarily be limited to a period terminating on the return date of the summons, which should be as early as practicable (usually not more than a day or two) after the order was made, when the respondent will have the opportunity to be heard. For this reason appeals of ex parte interlocutory injunctions are not usually made to a superior court. The applicant will then bear the onus of satisfying the court that the order should be continued or renewed. A party seeking an interlocutory injunction will ordinarily be obliged to give an undertaking to pay any damages by the defendant suffered as a result of the injunction in the event that the claim for final relief at trial fails. 

The decision to grant an interlocutory injunction can be appealed on an urgent basis to a relevant appeal court. The appeal court will usually list the matter before a single judge to assess the urgency (often the same or the day following the day on which the appeal is lodged) and set a timetable based on the information provided at that first listing. 

Australian state and federal courts can grant interim freezing orders, which restrain a defendant from disposing of property prior to judgment. These orders are a species of interlocutory orders. Such applications may be filed at the Supreme Court or Federal Court. A freezing order is normally obtained ex parte without notice to the respondent, before service of the originating process, because notice or service may prompt the feared dissipation or dealing with assets. A freezing order or an ancillary order may be limited to assets in Australia or in a defined part of Australia, or may extend to assets anywhere in the world, and may cover all assets without limitation, assets of a particular class, or specific assets. It would therefore be possible for a freezing order to encompass bank accounts as well as assets such as real property, art, securities or motor vehicles. Such orders would, however, normally allow for access to funds for reasonable expenses, living costs and payments in the ordinary course of a defendant or third party’s business. A court may also order a freezing order against a third party, where it can be established that there is a risk that a judgment or prospective judgment may be unsatisfied as a result of a third party’s power, possession or influence over the assets in question. The power to issue a freezing order is a function of courts’ authority to prevent an abuse of the court process by the frustration of court-ordered remedies. A freezing order will be made only to preserve the status quo for the purpose of resolving a substantive cause of action brought by the plaintiff, and not as a stand-alone remedy.

The criteria for the issue of a freezing order is similar to the ordinary principles for the grant of interim relief, as discussed above, although the potentially serious impact on a defendant’s property rights raises the threshold for the granting of a freezing order. This may be overcome by an undertaking as to damages given by the applicant of the freezing order, where the applicant undertakes to submit to such order (if any) as the court may consider to be just for the payment of compensation (to be assessed by the court or as it may direct) to any person affected by the operation of the order. The High Court of Australia described freezing orders as 'a drastic remedy which should not be granted lightly.' Broadly and generally, an applicant must show that: 

  • the applicant has a good arguable case (in the substantive cause of action);
  • the refusal of a freezing order will give rise to a real risk that any judgment pronounced in the action will remain unsatisfied, or that the recovery of any judgment will be prejudiced by reason of the removal by the defendant of assets from the jurisdiction, or their dissipation within it; and
  • the balance of convenience favors the making of the order.

Australian courts have wide discretion to award costs orders against either party to cover the opposing party’s costs of litigation. The general rule is that costs follow the event. This means that the unsuccessful party will be liable to pay the litigation costs of the successful party. The aim of this rule is to achieve a just outcome by shifting the costs burden on to the party which is found to have either unjustifiably brought another party before the court or given another party cause to have recourse to the court to obtain their rights. 

Where each litigant has enjoyed some success in the proceedings, courts may modify the general rule to make costs orders that reflect the litigants’ relative success and failure. Courts may depart from the general rule by requiring a successful party to bear their own costs where there is good cause to do so. Such an outcome may be justified where, for example, a successful plaintiff is awarded only nominal damages, or a party succeeds only due to late and substantial amendments to their case. 

Of particular strategic importance is the rule that generally a court will not award costs to a successful party which has obtained relief no more favorable than had already been offered by his or her opponent in settlement discussions. This rule is designed to encourage the early resolution of litigated disputes. 

Costs orders are subject to a costs assessment process administered by the courts. It is unusual that a party will be able to recover all of its actual legal costs through this process. On a standard assessment, parties may recover approximately 60% to 75% of their actual costs. A higher rate of assessment, on an indemnity basis, may be employed where a party has engaged in unreasonable conduct in the proceeding. 

All courts in Australia will charge fees for commencing civil proceedings (often referred to as a filing fee). Some jurisdictions, particularly superior courts, will also charge additional fees including but not limited to daily hearing fees (calculated by reference to the length of the trial), filing fees for notices of motions/applications and the issuing of subpoenas to third parties. These fees are set by the courts and are published on their websites. They are usually reviewed on a yearly basis. By way of example, the current (2019) rate for commencing proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia is AUD4,045 for corporations and the hearing fee for a five-day trial is AUD19,730 for corporations.

In all Australian jurisdictions, a representative proceeding, or class action (as it is more commonly known in Australia) may be commenced by or against any one person as a representative of numerous persons (the minimum number required is generally seven people) who have the same interest in the proceeding and the claims brought give rise to a substantial common issue of law or fact. It is possible to commence a class action against multiple defendants and there is no requirement for every group member to have a claim against every defendant.  

An overarching consideration of the courts in hearing a representative proceeding is whether it involves less delay, expense, and prejudice to the parties than alternative forms of trial. If not, the court may discontinue the proceedings. 

The Federal, New South Wales, Victorian and, most recently, Queensland jurisdictions contain further statutory provisions in relation to representative proceedings, which are arguably more liberal and plaintiff-friendly than other jurisdictions. These jurisdictions allow representative proceedings to be brought where seven or more people have claims which arise out of the same or related circumstances and give rise to a substantial common issue of fact or law. Over 90% of all class actions filed in Australia from 1992-2009 were filed in the Federal Court of Australia. 

When a representative proceeding is commenced, all potential plaintiffs who fall within a class become members of the class, whether they are aware of the claim or not. Members can then opt out of the proceedings before a date set by the court. All class members who do not opt out will be bound by the judgment of the court or by any approved settlement. 

It is important to note that, although some states have yet to formally abolish the law of champerty and maintenance, outside of the US, Australia has one of the most developed class action industries, with a variety of large, class action plaintiff law firms and with many litigation funders having been active in the jurisdiction for over 20 years. This active funding industry has seen a continued increase in the number of class actions being commenced in Australia. 

Cameron Maclean

Cameron Maclean

Partner
DLA Piper Australia
[email protected]
T +61 8 6467 6013
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