If you are faced with a dispute the process can seem daunting and so can the costs.
Our Guide to Dispute Resolution available on our website explains the dispute resolution process in detail. The focus of this guide is on costs, aiming to explain how our fees and expenses can be funded, whether from your own resources or by a third party, and the range of charging options that we offer.
A fundamental principle
The basic rule in litigation in England and Wales is that the loser pays the winner’s costs. This is known as ‘costs shifting’. It does not guarantee 100% reimbursement, because there are limitations on what can be recovered ‘between the parties’, but it does mean that if you win your case your opponent will usually have to reimburse some of the costs you have paid; and if you lose your case, you will not be reimbursed and you will probably have to pay some of your opponent’s costs too. The exact amount of costs payable between the parties will either be agreed between you or decided by the court.
In cases involving personal injury the rule is modified to ‘qualified one way costs shifting’ (QOCS). A claimant will not have to pay the defendant more in costs than the defendant has been ordered to pay to the claimant in damages and interest (subject to exceptions for the claimant’s bad behaviour or if it was unreasonable to bring the claim). This means that if the claimant loses, the claimant will not have to pay the defendant’s costs; and if the claimant wins but is ordered to pay some of the defendant’s costs, the claimant’s costs liability is effectively capped.