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“Costs” – The Least You Need to Know

The term “costs” is thrown around by lawyers and clients alike. What does it mean? What can you actually expect in terms of costs if you are successful in court? The law of costs can be complex.  This is only the very tip of the iceberg in terms of what it is all about.

First let’s define terms.  What you pay your lawyer are fees, disbursements and GST.  “Costs” means an amount that can be awarded by a Court (or arbitrator) against a party in certain circumstances.  That amount is payable to the other party.

There are two main types of costs:

Party and party. Party and party costs can be whatever a Judge says they are but often follows a specific schedule set out in the Rules of Court. The schedule provides an amount payable for each step specified in the schedule.  Party and party costs are NOT full repayment of what you paid your lawyer and often are only a fraction of that amount.

Solicitor Client. Solicitor client costs are what you pay your lawyer.  Costs at that level are not generally awarded against a losing party except in certain circumstances.

The usual award of costs is in recognition of one party winning and the other party losing. 

Keep the question of “costs” in mind right from the beginning of a case. And at each stage and all the way through.  It can be a significant consideration and impact one’s approach and strategy throughout. The concept of “costs” is that it should give parties incentive to settle their case in a reasonable way and to conduct the case in a reasonable way.

Costs can also be increased if there was an offer made by a party and the result obtained is better than the offer.  In certain circumstances a party may be entitled to double costs.

A threat to the other side that “you will be paying my lawyer’s fees” is often hollow.  But on the other hand Courts can and will award costs in appropriate cases to a successful party.

Our lawyers can guide you through this issue to ensure that you are making decisions and proceeding based on correct information. If you have any questions about the law of costs please contact us to discuss.  

Moe Hannah LLP

Client safety is important to Moe Hannah and so is client service. The health of our staff and clients is our top priority.  If clients and counsel prefer to work remotely during this difficult time, options exist for us to provide this service. Moe Hannah is able to do “virtual” non face-to-face meeting through internet conferencing.  We can do virtual consultations, mediation, or mediation/arbitration.
We can make it easy!
We will email a link for the conference to each person. The only requirement is internet access and a device suitable for the conference, ideally a camera and microphone.  Some people just use their cell phones. 
If you have any questions, please call or email us to talk about how we can make this work. 
We can still meet at Moe Hannah LLP for those people that would prefer to personally attend.  Everyone entering our office will be screened in accordance with the latest Alberta Health Guidelines. 
Our lawyers and assistants are set up to work remotely and we will continue mediation, mediation/arbitration and client meetings using Teams Video Conferencing, as well as our regular telephone conferencing.
Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Courts have announced that they are limiting access to urgent family law mattes. In light of this, parties may want to consider the mediation/arbitration process.  Please get in touch with your lawyer and/or assistant if you have any questions regarding your matter.
We look forward to working with you and helping you move forward during this difficult time.