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What Are Costs in the Cause?

Court proceedings can result in a number of different orders when it comes to costs. In this article, we’ll discuss what costs in the cause are. Put simply, costs in the cause mean that the costs of proceedings are paid by the unsuccessful party when proceedings are finalised.

Costs in the Cause

It’s common in civil proceedings for the unsuccessful party to pay the costs of the party that is successful. This is essentially what ‘costs in the cause’ means, however it is an Order that can be made before the final judgment is delivered.

In many proceedings, there are preliminary or interim hearings to determine issues before the matter goes to trial. If costs in the cause are ordered, then this means that the costs of the preliminary or interim hearing will be paid by whoever is unsuccessful at trial.

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Company X is involved in litigation with Company Y. Company Y has applied for an extension of time to provide documents. This is to be decided in an interlocutory hearing. Company Y fails in their application for an extension of time, however the Court orders costs in the cause. Several months later, Company X is successful at trial. This means that Company Y will have to pay the costs of the interlocutory application and hearing.

When can it be ordered?

Costs in the cause can only occur once a matter has proceeded to litigation. Further, they are only usually seen in civil cases (not criminal). Further, for tribunal matters costs in the cause is not normally ordered. This is because costs orders are not normally made in the first place. The general rule here is that each party will pay their own legal costs regardless of what the outcome of the case is.

However, there are exceptional circumstances where you may be ordered to pay costs in a tribunal or family law case.


Costs in the cause mean that the losing party in a case will have to pay the other party’s legal fees down the track. However, it’s important to remember that these costs don’t usually include lawyer fees (solicitor/client costs). This means that the successful party in litigation will still have to pay their lawyer fees. If you have further questions about costs orders, it is wise to contact a civil lawyer.

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