JWS v CJS, 2022 ABCA 63


10.29: General rule for payment of litigation costs
10.30: When costs award may be made
10.31: Court-ordered costs award

Case Summary

This was an appeal of a costs award in a family dispute.

The Father argued that the Judge who awarded costs erred in determining that the Mother was successful at trial. The Court noted that, pursuant to Rule 10.29, the successful party was presumptively entitled to costs. The Mother was successful on the primary issue of which party would have the day-to-day parenting of the children. Though the Mother did not receive all the ancillary relief requested in her Statement of Claim, the Court noted that costs were not normally awarded on an issue-by-issue basis and dismissed this ground of appeal.

The Father further argued that the Costs Judge erred by awarding costs for interim orders that were silent on Costs. The Court of Appeal noted that pursuant to Rule 10.30 “a costs award may be made […] in respect of trials and all other matters in an action, after judgment or a final order has been entered.” The Appellate Court found that the Judge applied a “costs in the cause” approach; the Court dismissed this ground of appeal.

Lastly, the Father argued that the Judge erred in awarding the quantum of solicitor-client costs when there was no Bill of Costs provided by the Mother. The Mother presented a lump sum estimate of the solicitor-client costs incurred and provided submissions about the various calculations and deductions. The Court of Appeal noted that Rule 10.31(b)(ii) authorized the Judge to accept the approach of the Mother and dismissed the last ground of appeal.

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