If it appears to the court that costs have been improperly or without any reasonable cause incurred or that by reason of undue delay in proceedings under a judgement or order or any misconduct or default by legal practitioner costs incurred which have proved fruitless to the person incurring the same the court may having given the practitioner the opportunity to show cause why such costs should not be disallowed and why the practitioner should not repay his client costs which he may have been ordered to pay to any other person, makes such order as it is the justice of the case may require. Alternatively it may refer the matter to the Legal Costs Adjudicator for enquiry and report and nominate another legal practitioner to attend and take part in such enquiry. The cost of such other legal practitioner are to be paid by the parties or as the court directs.
The new rules provide that the Legal Costs Adjudicator in adjudicating the costs of the matter can consider whether certain steps taken in the course of the proceedings were reasonable or excessive. This includes the following
- the reasonableness of the cost of preparing pleadings in particular having regard to their length and detail
- the reasonableness of interrogatories and answers
- whether it was reasonable not to admit matters in evidence (and thereby avoiding the costs of the party concerned proving them) when called on to do so
- (by way of assistance it is provided that the admission is only applicable to the particular case and not abuse against the parties on another occasion and that it may be withdrawn or amended on application and approval by court)
Various other types of proceedings are subject to specific rules changes which seek to limit costs.
The Court may, on any application or proceedings in or at the hearing and whether the same is objected to or not, direct the costs of any indorsement on a summons, pleading, affidavit or any other document, which is improper, or contains vexatious or unnecessary matter, or is of unnecessary length, to be disallowed. Alternatively it may direct the Legal Costs Adjudicator to look into the same and to disallow the costs thereof or of such part thereof as he finds to be improper, or to contain vexatious or unnecessary matter, or to be of unnecessary length. In such case, the party whose costs are so disallowed shall pay the costs occasioned thereby to the other party.
In any case where it has not been dealt with by the Court, it shall be the duty of the Legal Costs Adjudicator to look into the reasonableness of any indorsement on a summons, pleading, affidavit or any other document as if he had been specially directed to do so.
In any case in which a party entitled to receive costs is liable to pay costs to any other party, the Legal Costs Adjudicator may adjudicate the costs such party is so liable to pay, and may adjust the same by way of deduction or set off without any order of the court.