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Fees and charges required by law to be paid to the courts or their officers, the amount of which is specified by court rule or statute. A monetary allowance, granted by the court to a prevailing party and recoverable from the unsuccessful party, for expenses incurred in instituting or defending an action or a separate proceeding within an action.
A bill of costs is a certified, itemized statement of the amount of the expenses incurred in bringing or defending a lawsuit.
A cost bond, or bond for costs, is a promise to pay litigation expenses; it is provided by a party to an action as a guarantee of payment of any costs awarded against him or her. A cost bond also might be required of an appealing party in a civil case, in order to cover the appellee's expenses if the judgment is affirmed.
Final costs are paid at the conclusion of an action, the liability for which depends upon its final outcome.
Interlocutory costs Accrue during the intermediate stages of a proceeding, as distinguished from final costs.
Security for costs refers to an assurance of payment that a defendant may demand of a plaintiff who does not reside within the jurisdiction of the court, for the payment of such costs as might be awarded to the defendant.
Statutory costs are amounts specified by law to be awarded for various phases of litigation.
The award of costs is not a penalty but is a method used to reimburse an innocent party for the expenses of litigation. Costs include the payment of court fees for the commencement of the litigation; the submission of pleadings or other documents; or the Service of Process or other papers by a public officer. The appointment by a court of a referee to hear extremely technical testimony, or a receiver to retain and preserve the defendant's funds or property during litigation, is included in costs. Costs entail expenditures made in interviewing parties or witnesses prior to trial and the fees that are properly paid to witnesses who testify. Printing expenses for maps or necessary documents are also included.
Costs do not include the compensation of an attorney. Expenditures in terms of the adversary nature of the proceedings, however, are included. Only when specifically authorized by law may attorney's fees be awarded in addition to costs.
A party must request the court to award costs. The court generally defers its decision until judgment is rendered, then determines whether the prevailing party is entitled to costs. The successful party is not required to prevail on every issue or to obtain the entire amount of damages sought. Costs are also awarded to a party prevailing on appeal, even though the case was lost in the trial court.
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, after which most states have patterned their own procedural rules, "costs shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." Since state laws vary on this subject, however, the applicable state law must be consulted to determine the exact rules.
Costs cannot be assessed against a party merely because of tenacity in pursuing the claim. In Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. August, 450 U.S. 346, 101 S. Ct. 1146, 67 L. Ed. 2d 287 (1981), the justices held that plaintiffs who lose their lawsuits in federal court after rejecting a settlement offer (a proposal to avoid litigation by compromising a disputed claim that does not admit liability) are not required to pay the defendant's costs and attorney fees.
When cases involve multiple parties—more than one plaintiff or more than one defendant—a court may allocate costs among the losing parties.
If one party is a stakeholder—a person who is or might be exposed to multiple liability from adverse claims—the stakeholder's costs are generally obtained from all the other parties to an Interpleader action or from the stake: funds or property deposited by two persons with a third person, the stakeholder, for delivery to the person entitled to it upon the occurrence of a particular event.
In some instances, the amount of costs is specified by law, which restricts a party who is awarded costs to the figure permitted by law for each component of the total costs.
A court may order a party to post a bond to guarantee that costs will be paid if he or she is unsuccessful. Three other alternatives provide sufficient security: a signed statement by the party that he or she will pay determined costs; the deposit of sufficient funds with the court; or the promise of a person who accepts the obligation to pay in full if the party who would normally be responsible fails to do so.
Denial of Costs
A court may deny costs, although they are ordinarily awarded to the prevailing party. Misconduct, such as the concealment of a party's actual financial circumstances, when relevant to the action, justifies the denial of costs. A court that incurs additional, unnecessary expenses as a result of inadequate preparation of the case by the counsel of the prevailing party is entitled to reject a request for costs. In such an instance, the court has the discretion to order the attorney to pay a client's costs, particularly where his or her actions were grossly negligent.
Costs in criminal proceedings are those expenses specified by law that have been necessarily incurred in a criminal prosecution. The concept of costs was unknown at Common Law. The allowance of costs, therefore, is based on the applicable statutory provisions.
n. shorthand for court costs. (See: court costs)
coststhe expenses incurred in relation to a legal action that may be awarded by the court, usually (although not always) to the party who wins.
COSTS, practice. The expenses of a suit or action which may be recovered by
law from the losing party.
2. At common law, neither the plaintiff nor the defendant could recover costs eonomine; but in all actions in which damages were recoverable, the plaintiff, in effect, recovered his costs when he obtained a verdict, for the jury always computed them in the damages. When the defendant obtained a verdict, or the plaintiff became non-suit, the former was wholly without remedy for any expenses he had incurred. It is true, the plaintiff was amerced pro falso clamore suo, but the amercement was given to the king. Hull on Costs, 2 2 Arch. Pr. 281.
3. This defect was afterwards corrected by the statute of Gloucester, 6 Ed. I, c. 1, by which it is enacted that "the demandant in assise of novel disseisin, in writs of mort d'ancestor, cosinage, aiel and be sail, shall have damages. And the demandant shall have the costs of the writ purchased, together with damages, and this act shall hold place in all cases where the party recovers damages, and every person shall render damages where land is recovered against him upon his own intrusion, or his own act." About forty- six years after the passing of this statute, costs were for the first time allowed in France, by an ordinance of Charles le Bel, (January, 1324.) See Hardw. Cas. 356; 2 Inst. 283, 288 2 Loisel, Coutumes, 328-9.
4. The statute of Gloucester has been adopted, substantially, in all the United States. Though it speaks of the costs of the writ only, it has, by construction, been extended to the costs of the suit generally. The costs which are recovered under it are such as shall be allowed by the master or prothonotary upon taxation, and not those expenses which the. plaintiff may have. incurred for himself, or the extraordinary fees he may have paid counsel, or for the loss of his time. 2 Sell. Pr. 429.
5. Costs are single, when the party receives the same amount he has expended, to be ascertained by taxation; double, vide Double costs. and treble, vide Treble costs. Vide, generally, Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.; Hullock on Costs; Sayer's Law of Costs; Tidd's Pr. c. 40; 2 Sell. Pr. c. 19; Archb. Pr. Index, h.t.; Bac. Ab. h.t.; Com. Dig. h.t.; 6 Vin. Ab. 321; Grah. Pr. c. 23 Chit. Pr. h.t. 1 Salk. 207 1 Supp. to Ves. jr. 109; Amer. Dig. h.t.; Dane's Ab. h.t.; Harr. Dig. h.t. As to the liability of executors and administrators for costs, see 1, Chit. R. 628, note; 18 E. C. L. R. 185; 2 Bay's R. 166, 399; 1 Wash. R. 138; 2 Hen. & Munf. 361, 369; 4 John. R. 190; 8 John. R. 389; 2 John. Ca. 209. As to costs in actions qui tam, see Esp. on Pen. Act. 154 to 165.