Costs of the lawyer litigant: judgments all over the place

Update, 7 November 2018: the pendulum is certainly swinging in favour of pro se barristers being entitled to scale costs if they win: Pentelow v Bell Lawyers Pty Ltd [2018] NSWCA 150; Lake v Municipal Association of Victoria (No 2) [2018] VSC 660.

Update, 30 November 2017: The Full Court of the Tasmanian Supreme Court has weighed in, deciding that a practitioner who was admitted but yet to apply for a practising certificate was not a person to whom the Chorley exception applied: QRS v Legal Profession Board of Tasmania [2017] TASFC 13, and that the exception only favours lawyers who held a practising certificate at the time they did the work.

Update, 24 October 2017:  Readers have brought my attention to a couple of developments in relation to the law about the costs awards available to various classes of litigants who represent themselves.  First, in Joint Action Funding Limited v Eichelbaum [2017] NZCA 249 (14 June 2017), the New Zealand Court of Appeal decided that the Chorley exception in favour of lawyers who represent themselves is not available to a barrister who acted for himself.  But as Andrew Beck pointed out in ‘Who Gets Costs? The Plight of the Unrepresented’ [2017] NZLJ 281 (I have a copy if you want one), the Court’s reasoning may affect a broader class of unrepresented persons, and the decision may in time come to be seen as a substantial inroad into the Chorley exception.  Though the New Zealand High Court considered the Australian authorities in some detail, between the NZ case being argued and judgment being delivered, the NSW Court of Appeal delivered what seems to me likely to be a decision on rather similar questions in Coshott [sic!] v Spencer [2017] NSWCA 118 (31 May 2017). Continue reading “Costs of the lawyer litigant: judgments all over the place”

Is solicitor-director of ILP which acted for him to be treated as self-represented?

A NSW solicitor was partially successful in a defamation suit.  But for the circumstance that he had retained an incorporated legal practice with which he was associated and for part of the time the director and the file handler, the Court was willing to order the defendant to pay his costs on an indemnity basis.  In respect of the period in which the solicitor was — the fictions of corporations law aside — substantially self-represented, his costs were ordered to be assessed on the ordinary basis.   What McCallum J said in McMahon v John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd (No 8) [2014] NSWSC 673 is:

Continue reading “Is solicitor-director of ILP which acted for him to be treated as self-represented?”