Fixed costs—what are they?

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Fixed costs—what are they?
  • What are fixed costs?
  • Costs of the client, not the solicitor
  • When do fixed costs apply?
  • Construing Part 45
  • Can parties agree to disapply the fixed costs regime?
  • Court’s discretion to disapply the fixed costs regime
  • Determining fixed costs
  • Fixed costs and Part 36
  • Are court fees recoverable?
  • More...

Fixed costs—what are they?

This Practice Note considers fixed costs under Part 45 of the Civil Procedure Rules. For detailed guidance on capped costs in the Business and Property Courts under the capped costs list pilot scheme, see Practice Note: Business and Property Courts—Capped Costs List pilot scheme.

What are fixed costs?

Fixed costs are costs which are recoverable costs prescribed by statute. As a consequence, these costs are not open to challenge by a paying party under the indemnity principle. Generally, an unsuccessful party can expect to pay a percentage of the costs incurred by the successful party. However, in circumstances in which fixed costs apply, the court will order that the unsuccessful party should only pay a fixed sum in respect of the successful party's solicitors’ costs. In Broadhust v Tan, the difference between assessed costs and fixed costs was explained as follows:

‘Fixed costs are awarded whether or not they were incurred, and whether or not they represent reasonable or proportionate compensation for the effort actually expended. On the other hand, assessed costs reflect the work actually done. The court examines whether the costs were incurred, and then asks whether they were incurred reasonably and (on the standard basis) proportionately.’

The application of fixed costs was neatly summed up by Akenhead J in Amber Construction where he stated that:

‘Thus in both Rules 45.1 and 45.3 [now

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