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Party/party costs recovery for different types of self-represented litigants in Australia


BStoneAdmin - October 22, 2020 - 0 comments

Party/party costs recovery for different types of self-represented litigants in Australia

 

Self-represented litigants generally

Cannot be recompensed for her/his own time spent in litigation: Cachia v Hanes (1994) 179 CLR 403.

 

Self-represented barristers and/or solicitor litigants

Cannot recover professional costs for their own time spent acting in a proceeding from the party liable to pay costs: Bell Lawyers Pty Ltd v Pentelow (2019) 93 ALJR 1007. [2019] HCA 29 (Pentelow).

 

Self-represented government agencies and corporations

Entitled to recover costs of their in-house solicitors when successfully acting in litigation on behalf of their employer: Obiter in Pentelow.

 

Self-represented law firms

Cannot recover principal or partner’s costs of acting in litigation on behalf of the law firm: Pentelow.

 

Similarly, cannot recover fees incurred for work undertaken by its employed solicitors and other staff. Role of employed solicitors of law firms are not analogous to that of in-house counsel/solicitors in government agencies and corporations because, amongst other things, the employer law firm is both the party and the solicitor on the record (i.e. it is self-represented), whereas the employer corporation/government agency is the party and the in-house counsel is the solicitor on the record: United Petroleum Australia Pty Ltd v Freehills [2020] VSCA 15 (United Petroleum).

 

Self-represented incorporated legal practices

Cannot recover director’s costs of acting in litigation on behalf of the ILP: Pentelow.

Cannot recover its employees’ professional costs of acting for the ILP: Guneser v Aitken Partners [2020] VSC 329 for the same reasons provided in United Petroleum as noted above.

 

Summary

In Australia, self-represented solicitors, barristers, law firms, and incorporated legal practices, just like all other self-represented litigants, cannot recover costs for their own time spent in litigation.

All self-represented litigants are, however, entitled to recover their disbursements, including counsel’s fees.

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