Legal Costs in Civil Proceedings*

We have been asked what does ‘costs follow the event’ mean and where does it come from.

This post will explain this and how it might apply to ones civil case.

There is a general rule in civil proceedings cases that costs follow the event.

This means in effect that the party who is successful in the civil proceedings is entitled then to an award of costs against the unsuccessful party unless a court otherwise directs.

Section 169 of the Legal Services Act 2015 states that a party who is entirely successful in civil proceedings is entitled to an award of costs against a party who is not successful in those proceedings, unless the court orders otherwise, having regard to the particular nature and circumstances of the case, and the conduct of the proceedings by the parties.

If there are a number of Defendants in a case, and the Plaintiff ie person who initiated the case, is successful against one defendant but not against a second defendant, then the Plaintiff will only likely obtain an award of costs against one defendant and the other defendant may be entitled to their own costs against them.

In a 2015 case it was stated by the court that ‘the general rule is that costs follow the event unless the court otherwise orders’. The court also stated that ‘The overriding start point on any question of contested costs is that the general principle applies that namely, costs follow the event. All of the other rules, practises and approaches are supplementary to this principle and are designed to further its application or to meet situations where such application is difficult, complex or indeed even impossible’.


Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article. 8(b) “In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement”.

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