Costs in Small Claims – Unreasonable Conduct leads to an award far in excess of fixed costs Reed v Boswell [2022]

This case concerned a claim for deceit resulting in damages and loss to the Claimant and was brought as a small claim with damages sought just below £9,000. The Claimant was a criminal solicitor and brought the claim as a litigant in person. The Claimant’s claim failed with DJ Lumb concluding; 

“…the claim was misconceived and unclear. …and there were aspects of the quantum of damages claimed that were also inconsistent, unsupported and on the face of it, not losses that were sustained by the Claimant herself”

Whilst fixed costs are the usual outcome in small claims matters, the Defendant made an application under CPR 27.14(2)(g) for the court to award;

(g) such further costs as the court may assess by the summary procedure and order to be paid by a party who has behaved unreasonably.

If successful, a costs order can be granted in respect of those costs incurred as a direct result of the party’s unreasonable behaviour. DJ Lumb found that the Claimant had acted unreasonably and that conduct resulted in increased costs within the litigation. As a result, a costs award of £17,500 was made. A substantial increase on the usual court fee costs. 

The lesson here? Ensure that you have a solid case when issuing a small claims; the usual rules with regard to costs may not protect you if the claim you make is unsubstantiated and your actions are considered unreasonable. 

For any costs advice please contact the office to speak to one of our experts, or contact Kate Benn at 01480 220808

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