Litigant in Person costs and expenses

What can a Litigant in Person claim for small claims track costs and expenses?

On the small claims track, the Litigant in Person generally bears their own legal costs unless they can satisfy the District Judge that the loser has behaved unreasonably. Usually all the winning party will be awarded would be the fixed costs on the commencement of the claim, court fees, travelling expenses, loss of earnings and expert fees. The amounts recoverable are nominal.

The costs allowed by the Court if a claim is successful are called fixed costs. These costs will be modest and are simply to cover expenses incurred in pursuing the claim.

The Courts allow certain fixed costs to be paid by the losing party. These costs can include:

  1. the fixed costs attributable to issuing the claim:

    Fixed costs on commencement of a claim for the recovery of money or goods

    Relevant band Where the value of the claim exceeds £25 but does not exceed £500 Where the value of the claim exceeds £500 but does not exceed £1,000 Where the value of the claim exceeds £1,000 but does not exceed £5,000; or the only claim is for delivery of goods and no value is specified or stated on the claim form Where the value of the claim exceeds £5,000
    Where the claim form is served by the court or by any method other than personal service by the claimant

    £50 £70 £80 £100
    Where the claim form is served personally by the claimant; and there is only one defendant

    £60 £80 £90 £110
    Where there is more than one defendant, for each additional defendant personally served at separate addresses by the claimant

    £15 £15 £15 £15
  2. expenses such as court fees, reasonable travelling expenses, the cost of staying overnight if relevant, and up to £95 for loss of leave or loss of earnings if unpaid time off work was taken to attend the court hearing.
  3. the same is allowed for any witnesses called, as long as it was necessary for them to attend the hearing
  4. any expert's fees, limited to £750 per expert

What can I claim if my case is for more than £10,000 but has been allocated to the small claims track?

District Judges have a discretion to allocate claims to the Small Claims Track which may be of a higher value than £10,000 and they may do this without the consent of the parties. On the one hand this means that the parties to the action will not have to comply with the more substantial directions that would be made if the claim was in the Fast Track eg disclosure, exchange of witness statements, completion of checklists and case management hearings. On the other hand it means that parties should not be able to recover costs incurred in the proceedings.

When the court allocates a claim from the small claims track to a different track the usual rule about costs in the small claims track cease to apply. In these cases if the claimant loses the claim they may have to pay the defendant's costs.

What can a Litigant in Person claim for fast track costs and expenses?

When using the Fast Track the amount of costs allowed for the work carried out by a Litigant in Person will depend upon whether or not a party can prove financial loss.

To determine the cost of time spent the judge will look at the work that was done, whether it was necessary, and how much time was taken. The time taken will be compared with the time needed for a solicitor to do the same work and what that solicitors reasonable costs would have been. The total costs award must not exceed 2/3 of what a solicitor would have reasonably charged for the same work.

Which Litigant in Person expenses can be included on the fast track?

You should keep an accurate record of your costs and time to be able to prove loss.

  • Time preparing letters
  • Postage, including Recorded and Special Delivery
  • Faxes
  • Time preparing claim, directions questionnaire, court bundle, hearing
  • Copying
  • Stationery
  • Telephone calls

How are litigant in person costs decided?

A litigant cannot benefit from the fault of another so a litigant in person is not be allowed to profit from the work carried out by them on a case. However some reimbursement for the cost and time taken will usually be allowed. To pre-empt double recovery:

A litigant who is allowed costs for attending at court to conduct his case is not entitled to a witness allowance in respect of such attendance in addition to those costs.

Litigants in person (LIPs) fall into two categories: those who can prove financial loss and those who cannot.

For those who can prove loss there are two caps. They cannot recover more than they have lost and they cannot recover more than two-thirds of the amount to which a solicitor would have been entitled.

For those who cannot prove financial loss the rate of £19 an hour is compensation for time reasonably spent as assessed by the Judge.

When do you request your Litigant in Person costs?

Application for costs should reach the court at least 24 hours before the hearing.

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