How much can be payable for court costs in Alberta?

  • Court Costs are a partial indemnification of a party’s litigation expenses, calculated in accordance with the Alberta rules of court.
  • Court costs are not representative of actual legal fees charged by your lawyer. They are not based on a percentage. They are based on a tariff contained in the Alberta Rules of Court. >A certain amount is set out for each significant step in the action, the amount being determined by the amount in dispute between the parties.
  • They are usually broken out into two parts – fees and disbursements. Disbursements are the reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred in prosecuting or defending the action
  • Costs usually follow the cause. The losing party pays costs to the winning party. Court costs are a partial penalty for one side not settling on reasonable terms at the earliest opportunity. As well they can be seen as partial compensation to the winning party for having to go through the stress and expense of a trial or court proceeding.
  • Court Costs are in the absolute discretion of the court, but following accepted principles which are not lightly deviated from. Costs are often based on how previous cases were decided.
  • Court Costs can amount to tens or hundred’s of thousands of dollars depending on the amount in dispute, the complexity of the case, how many steps were taken in the claim and what the out of pocket expenses were.
  • The court will usually award double costs if the defendant makes an offer and the plaintiff refuses to accept it, and the plaintiff’s claim is denied completely. A one week jury trial in Edmonton resulted in court costs in excess of $60,000.00.
  • The large portion of court costs will be the cost of expert witnesses. Their fees can range in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Court costs are usually a factor in any offers of settlement. They can be included or excluded in the settlement number.
  • Lawyers that handle cases on a contingency basis usually share in the court costs awarded to the successful party. However if your claim is unsuccessful, court costs are paid by the claimant or defendant personally.

Here is some supplementary information:

The Court of Queen’s Bench Costs Manual is located at
http://www.albertacourts.ab.ca/cs/reviewoffice/CBP-Disbursements.pdf

Rules of Court Schedule C is located at
http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/rules/02_Rules19.pdf

Client Guide to Basic Costs
http://www.fieldlaw.com/articles/Lit_CG_Basiccosts.pdf