Can you recover your legal costs in a Civil claim?

by | Feb 4, 2024 | Media

Can I recover my legal costs if I win my case?

There are 2 types of costs: party-party costs and solicitor-client costs.

Party-party costs refer to a sum of money which the Court can order a person to an action (not always the winner) to pay to the other person to help offset that person’s legal fees (i.e. solicitor-client costs). The rationale behind this is that the ‘loser’ should be made to pay a portion of the ‘winner’s’ legal fees in having to start the action in the first place.

The quantification of costs will be decided by the Courts, having regard to the conduct of both the parties. There can be situations where the ‘winner’ of the case is ordered to pay a large amount of party-party costs to the ‘loser’ despite the judgment being in his favour. This is often the case when the Court feels that the litigation would not have taken such a protracted course and that the ‘winner’ had not conducted the litigation in good faith. In such situations, the ‘winner’ may ultimately end up being the ‘loser’ because the costs he must pay to the other side will be greater than the damages he was awarded.

It’s a basic principle that party-party costs should never be allowed to exceed solicitor-client costs. This means
that each person to a case will never be able to claim costs to completely offset their own legal fees.

It’s a misconception that the ‘winner’ of a lawsuit won’t pay any legal fees and the Court will order the ‘loser’ to pay all the winner’s legal costs.

So there you have it, some basic information on whether you can recover your legal costs if you win your case.

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About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.