Legal Costs in South Africa: A Brief Breakdown

Legal costs can add up when taking legal action; however, there is a chance that the successful party can recover some (if not most) of the legal costs expended on the case. These costs can be recuperated if the court orders the unsuccessful party to pay a certain portion of the successful litigant’s legal fees.

It is important to note that court fees differ depending on the type of court that adjudicates your case. The Magistrate Court will generally have a lower cost implication, where the High Court will be more expensive. Both fees are regulated by specified rules in the Rules of Court.

3 Types of Bills of Cost

There are three types of Bills of Cost that are payable in a South African civil court case. It is important to understand them, in order to know what you are potentially getting yourself into financially.

Party and Party Bill of Cost

Party and Party Bill of Costs refer to the costs incurred by the plaintiff and the defendant. These costs are specific to the court case. They include costs that have been induced during a court case; however, they exclude any legal fees pertaining to the time frame prior to a summons, or notice of motion being served. These costs are most frequently awarded to the successful litigant by the presiding judge.

Attorney and Client Bill of Cost

Attorney and Client Bill of Costs are less frequently granted by a judge. This is because it requires the unsuccessful party to reimburse the successful litigant with costs over and above Party and Party costs. These costs can include fees incurred between a client and attorney prior to the trial.

Attorney and Own Client Bill of Cost

Attorney and Own Client bill of Costs are almost never awarded by the judge. If it is done, it is due to the court strongly disapproving of the conduct of the unsuccessful party. These costs require the unsuccessful party to further reimburse the successful litigant, after Party and Party costs and Attorney and Client costs have been paid for. This allows the successful party to recover most of the expenses exhausted on the case. 

A Legal Cost Consultant: Their Functionality and Purpose

A Legal Cost Consultant is someone who is trained and has specialised in drafting Bills of Cost. They calculate the legal costs and lawyer’s fees, that have been incurred prior to and during the trial. They are able to draft, present, and also oppose Bills of Cost. They negotiate what is owed to the successful litigant. Matters where costs are to be taxed is adjudicated by a Taxing Master and such Taxing Master determines the final costs to be paid towards the successful litigant.

Legal Cost Consultants in Pretoria 

At Steenkamp Van Niekerk Attorneys we have the ability and expertise to handle a variety of taxing matters, and have managed to establish ourselves as one of the most prominent cost consulting firms in Gauteng. Some of our Cost Consulting Services Include:

  • Drafting Party and Party Bills of Cost
  • Drafting Attorney and Client Bills of Cost
  • Drafting Attorney and Own Client Bills of Cost
  • Settling Bills of Cost
  • Opposing Bills of Cost
  • Attending to taxations in the Magistrate and High Court
  • Assistance with Fee Assessment at the Legal Practice Council

To find out more about legal costs in South Africa, and how you can ensure your legal fees are calculated correctly, contact us at SVN INC.

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