In civil litigation and dispute management, costs orders (or orders as to costs) refer to costs incurred by one party to pay the other party’s legal costs. This is determined by applying the court scale for fees and disbursements. Where an application is being made to dispose of an action such as a summary judgment, then a costs order should be sought in respect of the entire action, not just the application.

Cost orders:

  • can be awarded at any stage of the proceedings or after the proceeding ends;
  • can be awarded in relation to the whole proceedings, a particular question or a particular part of the proceedings; and
  • are at the discretion of the court.

Below are some commonly used cost order phrases used in Australia:

Costs of the Day

An order by the court awarding a party the costs of a particular day or event in the proceedings. The order encompasses costs for all work “reasonably connected” with and leading up to the particular day/ event in court.

Costs in the Cause

‘Costs in the cause’ refers to costs of the application that are part of the costs in the action and are disposed of with the costs of the entire matter at judgment. This is often of an interlocutory application or directions hearing. The party who gets the costs of the action is entitled to costs in an application which are ordered to be costs in the cause.

Costs in Any Event

‘Costs in any event’ means that the party awarded costs in the application or motion gets the costs of the application or motion, irrespective of the final result of the proceedings.

No Order as to Costs

This means that each party has to pay his or her own costs, unless it can be seen that one party has acted unreasonably in bringing or defending the proceedings.

Reserved Costs or Costs Reserved

When the costs of any application or motion or other proceeding are reserved by the Court, no costs of such motion or application shall be allowed to either party without the further order of the Court.  It is therefore important to remember to take into account any costs orders, which have been reserved, and to seek an order at the conclusion of the proceedings, which will deal with any reserved costs.

Costs Thrown Away

This order awards a party those costs incurred by that party and wasted as a result of the other party’s actions (such as an amendment to a pleading), error, unnecessary application,  or failure to comply with a timetable

Seeking Costs Orders

It is up to the party seeking costs to ask the court for an order that the other party pay costs if they are successful. This request should be made in the court document which commences the action, also known as an “originating process”. Note that you cannot ask for a costs order if you are self-represented.


LegalVision can assist you with any questions you may have about costs orders. LegalVision has a team of great lawyers who can assist you in any litigation dispute or dispute matter. Please call our office on 1300 544 755 and our Client Care team will happily provide you with an obligation-free consultation and a fixed-fee quote.

Anthony Lieu
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