On this page

  • Introduction
  • Summary
  • Basis for costs
  • District and High Court costs schedules
  • High Court costs
  • Estimate for a ‘1A’ High Court trial
  • Estimate for a ‘1A’ High Court summary judgment
  • Estimate for a ‘2B’ High Court trial
  • Estimate for a ‘2B’ High Court summary judgment
  • Estimate for a ‘3C’ High Court trial
  • High Court insolvency proceedings
  • District Court costs
  • Estimate for a ‘1A’ District Court short trial
  • Estimate for a ‘2B’ District Court simplified trial
  • Estimate for a ‘2B’ District Court full trial
  • Estimate for a ‘2B’ District Court summary judgment
  • Estimate for a ‘3C’ District Court full trial
  • Estimate for a ‘3C’ District Court summary judgment

Introduction

This page explains legal costs involved in court cases and gives estimates that are based on assumptions. Under the part titled ‘Summary’ there is a description of the estimates contained on this page. The reasons for the estimates and the assumptions they are based on are explained in the parts following the summary. The assumptions can vary a great deal, and this variability can change the estimates to a significant degree.

Summary

This part summarises the estimates contained on this page. The reasons for the estimates are described in the parts that follow.

References to ‘costs’ are the estimated legal fees and disbursements that a plaintiff may incur to run a trial or take the action described. References to ‘recoverable’ amounts are the estimated amounts that a court may allow a successful plaintiff to recover from a defendant. Note that GST is not specifically accounted for.

References to ‘summary’ are references to summary judgment applications. References to ‘insolvency’ are references to liquidation and adjudication (bankruptcy) applications. References to ‘duration’ are references to the length of the substantive hearing or trial for each matter.

High Court
Action Classification Duration Cost Recoverable
Trial Straightforward 2 days 35,018 25,078
Trial Average 5 days 117,453 83,582
Trial Complex 7 days 348,885 239,470
Summary Straightforward 1 day 12,380 9,120
Summary Average 1 day 25,081 17,500
Insolvency Straightforward 3,566 2,974
Insolvency Average 6,473 4,912
District Court
Action Classification Duration Cost Recoverable
Short Trial Straightforward 1 day 7,915 6,026
Simplified Trial Average 2 days 42,299 29,516
Full Trial Average 5 days 73,931 52,270
Full Trial Complex 5 days 157,968 108,162
Summary Average 1 day 12,547 8,898
Summary Complex 1 day 28,132 19,288

Basis for costs

When lawyers act in a court case their fees tend to make up the greatest part of the costs involved. The total cost of a case depends on many variables. These include:

1. Some cases involve more evidence. Therefore a greater amount of analytical work and discovery may be required.

2. Answers to some legal questions are not yet obvious by reference to legislation or New Zealand case law. A greater amount of legal research may be necessary if a case involves such legal questions.

3. Different cases can involve different procedural steps. Some cases quickly come to an end if a defendant does not file a defence or if a summary judgment is given at an early stage. Others can go on for years if a lengthy trial is required and there are many pre-trial arguments, conferences and other steps.

4. Different lawyers offer different pricing models. Some charge an hourly rate for their time, whereas others may offer fixed fees for different components of a case or some other arrangement. Hourly rates and the cost of fixed fee components can vary from lawyer to lawyer.

Under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008, lawyers must charge fees that are fair and reasonable. Rule 9.1 provides:

The factors to be taken into account in determining the reasonableness of a fee in respect of any service provided by a lawyer to a client include the following:

a. the time and labour expended:

b. the skill, specialised knowledge, and responsibility required to perform the services properly:

c. the importance of the matter to the client and the results achieved:

d. the urgency and circumstances in which the matter is undertaken and any time limitations imposed, including those imposed by the client:

e. the degree of risk assumed by the lawyer in undertaking the services, including the amount or value of any property involved:

f. the complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved:

g. the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer:

h. the possibility that the acceptance of the particular retainer will preclude engagement of the lawyer by other clients:

i. whether the fee is fixed or conditional (whether in litigation or otherwise):

j. any quote or estimate of fees given by the lawyer:

k. any fee agreement (including a conditional fee agreement) entered into between the lawyer and client:

l. the reasonable costs of running a practice:

m. the fee customarily charged in the market and locality for similar legal services.

Lawyers tend to break their costs down into three parts. There is the fees part, any goods and services tax (“GST”) on their fees, and then there are disbursements. Disbursements include costs payable to other organisations such as Court filing and process service fees. The rate of GST is currently 15% in New Zealand. GST on legal fees may not be payable if you are not a New Zealand tax resident, and may otherwise be payable but refundable in some circumstances. GST is not specifically accounted for here.  

District and High Court costs schedules

The District and High Court Rules both include schedules that can be used to calculate costs awards made by those Courts. Those schedules describe some components or ‘steps’ in court cases, how much time each component can involve and a range of ‘daily recovery rates’. A daily recovery rate is the amount of money for legal fees, calculated on a daily basis, that a Court may allow to be recovered against another party to a court case.

The appropriate daily recovery rate depends on the nature and complexity of each particular case. These rates are intended to amount to two thirds of what is considered a reasonable rate. That is because the District and High Court schedules are only intended to be used to calculate partial compensation for costs incurred by a successful litigant. There are other provisions in the respective Court Rules for awarding greater amounts of costs and full costs, but reference to the schedules should give you a general idea of what it could cost to run a court case.

Daily recovery rates are set out in Schedule 2 of the High Court Rules 2016 and Schedule 5 of the District Court Rules 2014. The rates are different as between these two Courts. The rules and regulations for the other Courts and Tribunals covered by this website do not incorporate costs schedules. Arguments over costs in those forums may draw analogies between the High or District Court schedules, particularly concerning the reasonableness of costs claimed.

High Court costs

The appropriate High Court daily recovery rate depends on how a particular case is categorised. There are three categories of cases set out in rule 14.3 of the High Court Rules 2016. They are:

Category 1: Proceedings of a straightforward nature able to be conducted by counsel considered junior in the High Court.

Category 2: Proceedings of average complexity requiring counsel of skill and experience considered average in the High Court.

Category 3: Proceedings that because of their complexity or significance require counsel to have special skill and experience in the High Court

The daily recovery rates provided for by schedule 2 of the High Court Rules are set out in the column titled ‘Rate (2/3)’ of the following table. Remembering that those rates are only intended to amount to two thirds of what is considered reasonable, the full rate is set out in the column titled ‘Rate (3/3)’.

 

Category Rate (2/3) Rate (3/3)
1: Straightforward proceedings / junior counsel $1,480 $2,220
2: Average proceedings / average counsel $2,230 $3,345
3: Significant or complex proceedings / special counsel $3,300 $4,950

 

Various steps that may be taken by parties to a court case are described at schedule 3 of the High Court Rules 2016. That schedule also sets out how long it may take to complete each step. Three different time estimates are given for each step. They are ranked ‘A’ for the least through to ‘C’ for the greatest amount of time considered reasonable. The rankings are described as ‘bands’ by rule 14.5(2) of the High Court Rules 2016 as follows:

(2) A determination of what is a reasonable time for a step under subclause (1) must be made by reference—

a. to band A, if a comparatively small amount of time is considered reasonable; or

b. to band B, if a normal amount of time is considered reasonable; or

c. to band C, if a comparatively large amount of time for the particular step is considered reasonable.

The table that follows sets out:

Columns 1 and 2: some of the steps described in schedule 3 of the High Court Rules 2016; and

Columns 3 to 5: a range for legal fees calculated by reference to daily recovery rate 1, time estimate band A, rate 2 band B and rate 3 band C. The daily recovery rates used are the full “(3/3)” rates referred to above.

Estimated disbursements involved in particular steps are also set out in the row immediately below the relevant step. Disbursements are indicated by the letter ‘D’ in the column titled ‘Step’. Fees payable to the High Court are provided for by the High Court Fees Regulations 2013.

High Court Costs Schedule
Step Description Estimate
  Commencement 1A 2B 3C
1 Commencement of proceeding by plaintiff 3,552 10,035 49,500
D1 High Court filing fee 1,350
D2 Process service fee 200
2 Commencement of defence by defendant 2,220 6,690 29,700
D3 High Court filing fee 110
  Other pleadings and notices 1A 2B 3C
3 Reply 444 2,676 11,880
4 Counterclaim 1,776 5,352 23,760
D4 High Court filing fee 1,350
5 Cross-notice between defendants 1,332 4,014 19,800
6 Third party notice and statement of claim 2,664 8,028 34,650
D5 High Court filing fee 1,460
D6 Process service fee 200
7 Notice of appearance 444 669 990
D7 High Court filing fee 110
D8 Process service 400
8 Notice of appearance with protest to jurisdiction 666 2,007 9,900
D9 High Court filing fee 110
9 Pleading in response to amended pleading 666 2,007 9,900
  Case management 1A 2B 3C
10 Preparation for first case management conference (including discussion about discovery) 444 1,338 4,950
11 Filing memorandum for first or subsequent case management conference or mentions hearing 444 1,338 4,950
12 Appearance at mentions hearing or callover 444 669 990
13 Appearance at first or subsequent case management conference 666 1,004 3,465
14 Preparation for and appearance at issues conference 1,673 4,950
15 Preparation for and appearance at pre-trial conference 1,673 4,950
  Interrogatories, discovery and inspection 1A 2B 3C
16 Notice to answer interrogatories 888 3,345 19,800
17 Answer to interrogatories 888 3,345 19,800
18 Notice to admit facts 888 2,676 11,880
19 Admissions of facts 888 2,676 11,880
20 List of documents on discovery 1,554 8,363 34,650
D10 Copying/scanning/indexing/(digital) storage costs
21 Inspection of documents 1,110 5,018 29,700
  Interlocutory applications 1A 2B 3C
22 Filing interlocutory application 666 2,007 9,900
D11 High Court filing fee 500
23 Filing opposition to interlocutory application 666 2,007 9,900
D12 High Court filing fee 110
24 Preparation of written submissions 1,110 5,018 14,850
25 Preparation by applicant of bundle for hearing 888 2,007 4,950
D13 Printing/binding costs
26 Appearance at hearing of defended application for sole or principal counsel The time occupied by the hearing measured in quarter days
D14 High Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day 1,600
27 Second and subsequent counsel if allowed by court 50% of allowance for appearance for principal counsel
28 Obtaining judgment without appearance 666 1,004 2,475
29 Sealing order or judgment 444 669 990
D15 High Court sealing fee 50
  Trial preparation and appearance 1A 2B 3C
30 Plaintiff’s or defendant’s preparation of briefs or affidavits 3,330 8,363 24,750
31 Plaintiff’s preparation of list of issues, authorities, and common bundle 3,330 8,363 24,750
D16 Printing/binding costs
32 Defendant’s preparation of list of issues, authorities, and common bundle 2,220 6,690 19,800
D17 Printing/binding costs
33 Preparation for hearing 4,440 10,035 24,750
D18 High Court scheduling fee 1,600
34 Appearance at hearing for sole or principal counsel The time occupied by the hearing measured in quarter days
D19 High Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day 1,600
35 Second and subsequent counsel if allowed by court 50% of allowance for appearance for principal counsel
36 Other steps in proceeding not specifically mentioned As allowed by the court
D20 High Court fee for judicial settlement conference 640
  Originating applications 1A 2B 3C
37 Filing application and supporting affidavits 2,220 6,690 29,700
D21 High Court filing fee 540
D22 Process service fee 200
38 Filing notice of opposition and supporting affidavits 2,220 6,690 29,700
D23 High Court filing fee 110
39 Case management (as for ordinary proceeding)
40 Preparation of written submissions 1,110 5,018 14,850
D24 High Court scheduling fee 640
41 Preparation by applicant of bundle for hearing 888 2,007 4,950
D25 Printing/binding costs
42 Appearance at hearing for sole or principal counsel The time occupied by the hearing measured in quarter days
D26 High Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day 640
43 Second and subsequent counsel if allowed by court 50% of allowance for appearance for principal counsel
  Bankruptcy proceedings 1A 2B 3C
44 Filing and serving bankruptcy notice 222 669 2,970
D27 High Court filing fee 200
D28 Process service fee 200
45 Filing application for adjudication by creditor 666 2,007 8,910
D29 High Court filing fee 500
D30 High Court scheduling fee 640
D31 Process service 200
46 Appearance at hearing 444 1,338 5,940
47 Supporting party on bankruptcy 444 1,338 5,940
D32 High Court fee for sealing order for bankruptcy 50
  Company liquidation proceedings 1A 2B 3C
48 Issuing statutory demand 222 669 2,970
D33 Process service fee 200
49 Filing statement of claim and other documents 666 2,007 8,910
D34 High Court filing fee 540
D35 Process service fee 200
D36 Advertising fees 800
50 Appearance at hearing 444 1,338 5,940
51 Supporting party on liquidation 444 1,338 5,940
D37 High Court sealing fee 50
  Appeals 1A 2B 3C
52 Commencement of appeal or cross-appeal 1,110 3,345 14,850
D38 High Court filing fee 540
53 Commencement of response to appeal or cross-appeal 666 1,673 4,950
D39 High Court filing fee 110
54 Case management (as for ordinary proceeding) Refer above
55 Preparation of Case on Appeal 1,110 3,345 9,900
D40 High Court scheduling fee 1,600
56 Preparation of written submissions 2,220 10,035 29,700
57 Appearance at hearing for sole or principal counsel The time occupied by the hearing measured in quarter days
D41 High Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day 1,600
58 Second and subsequent counsel if allowed by court 50% of allowance for appearance for principal counsel
  Australian judgment proceedings 1A 2B 3C
58A Preparing and filing an application under section 56 of the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 to register in the court an Australian judgment 666 1,004 1,485
D42 High Court filing fee 100
D43 Process service fee 200
  Enforcement of judgment or order 1A 2B 3C
59 Charging order without application 666 1,004 4,950
D44 High Court issuing fee 200
D45 Process service 200
60 Charging order with application, including any unopposed order 1,110 1,673 6,930
D46 High Court issuing fee 200
D47 Process service 200
61 Sale order, including sale of seized property 1,110 1,673 3,465
D48 High Court issuing fee 1,500
D49 High Court sale fee 500
D50 Process service fee 200
D51 Advertising fee 600
62 Other enforcement process 1,110 1,673 3,465

Costs schedules referred to on this page cannot be regarded as perfectly accurate. Sometimes steps take less time than indicated by the schedules and sometimes they take more time. Steps that are not accounted for by the schedules may need to be taken and, as shown above, estimates are not provided for every single step that is accounted for. Keep in mind the variable factors affecting costs. Some of those are described at the beginning of this page.

Reference to the costs schedules can, however, be useful to provide a general idea of the kinds of costs that could be involved in a court case.

Estimate for a ‘1A’ High Court trial

With reference to the costs schedule above, a simple High Court claim that progresses to trial could cost a plaintiff $35,018. $25,078 of those costs would be recoverable if ‘1A’ costs and all disbursements except D10 and D16 were awarded.

This estimate is made on the basis that the proceeding is of a straightforward nature, able to be conducted by counsel considered junior, and involving only a comparatively small amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 1, band A’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes no interlocutory applications are made in the proceeding, there is only one round of each kind of case management step, discovery and bundling costs are relatively inexpensive at $300 each, and a two day trial conducted by only one counsel.

The estimate accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 3; 10; 11; 12; 13; 16; 18; 20; D10 ($300); 21; 30; 31; D16 ($300); 33; D18; 34 (2 days); D19 (2 days); 29; D15. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘1A’ High Court summary judgment

Estimated costs in the order of $35,000 to complete a simple High Court trial provide incentive to settle or otherwise resolve a claim early. Summary judgment, if it is available, is a way to have a case determined without the full expense of a trial. Where a plaintiff makes a summary judgment application it must satisfy the Court that the defendant has no defence to a claim. Where a defendant makes a summary judgment application it must show that the plaintiff cannot succeed with a claim. This is as provided by rule 12.2 of the High Court Rules 2016.

Summary judgment applications are typically advanced by plaintiffs either at the time they file a statement of claim, after they have received a response by the defendants or after discovery and inspection has occurred.

If a summary judgment application is advanced by a plaintiff at the time a simple High Court claim is filed, then the costs to hear and determine that application could be $12,380. Of these, $9,120 would be recoverable if ‘1A’ costs and all disbursements except D13 were awarded.

That is on the basis that the proceeding is of a straightforward nature able, to be conducted by counsel considered junior, and involving only a comparatively small amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 1, band A’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes a one day hearing conducted by one counsel, and printing and binding costs of $300 for the necessary bundle of documents.

The estimate accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 22; 24; 25; D13 ($300); 26 (1 day); D14 (1 day); 29; D15. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘2B’ High Court trial

An average High Court claim that progresses to trial could cost a plaintiff $117,453. Of these, $83,582 would be recoverable if ‘2B’ costs and all disbursements were awarded except D10 and D16.

That is on the basis that the proceeding is of an average nature, able to be conducted by counsel considered average, and involving a normal amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 2, band B’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes two rounds of case management conferences, no interlocutory applications, discovery and document bundle disbursements of $600 a piece, a five day trial conducted by two counsel and a one day judicial settlement conference conducted by one counsel.

The estimate accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 3; 10; 11 (x2); 12; 13 (x2); 14; 15; 16; 18; 20; D10 ($600); 21; 30; 31; D16 ($600); 33; D18; 34 (5 days); D19 (5 days); 35; 36 (1 day judicial settlement conference); D20; 29; D15. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘2B’ High Court summary judgment

As with ‘1A’ proceedings, the estimated costs to complete a trial provide incentive to settle or otherwise resolve the claim early. Summary judgment can resolve appropriate cases without the full expense of a trial. For plaintiffs, an appropriate case for a summary judgment application is where the defendant has no defence to a claim. Where a defendant makes a summary judgment application it must show that the plaintiff cannot succeed with a claim. This is as provided by rule 12.2 of the High Court Rules 2016.

Summary judgment applications are typically advanced by plaintiffs either at the time they file a statement of claim, after they have received a response by the defendants or after discovery and inspection has occurred.

If a summary judgment application is advanced by a plaintiff at the time an average High Court claim is filed, then the costs to hear and determine that application could be $25,081. Of these, $17,520 would be recoverable if ‘2B’ costs and all disbursements were awarded except D13.

That is on the basis that the proceeding is of an average nature, able to be conducted by counsel considered average, and involving a normal amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 2, band B’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes a one day hearing conducted by one counsel, and printing and binding costs of $400 for a bundle of documents.

The estimate accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 22; 24; 25; D13 ($400); 26 (1 day); D14 (1 day); 29; D15. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘3C’ High Court trial

A complex High Court claim that progresses to trial could cost a plaintiff $348,885. $239,470 of these costs would be recoverable if ‘3C’ costs and all disbursements were awarded except D10 and D16.

This estimate is made on the basis that the proceeding is complex, conducted by counsel of special skill or experience, and involving a large amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 3, band C’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes two rounds of case management conferences, no interlocutory applications, discovery and document bundle disbursements of $1,000 a piece, a seven day trial conducted by two counsel and a one day judicial settlement conference conducted by one counsel.

The estimate accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 3; 10; 11 (x2); 12; 13 (x2); 14; 15; 16; 18; 20; D10 ($1,000); 21; 30; 31; D16 ($1,000); 33; D18; 34 (7 days); D19 (7 days); 35; 36 (1 day judicial settlement conference); D20; 29; D15. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

High Court insolvency proceedings

Obtaining a judgment is one thing, having it honoured is another thing entirely.

This part considers a situation where you have a judgment entitling you to payment of money but payment is not made. It looks at insolvency proceedings, which are one of the more common ways to attempt to achieve payment.

An insolvency proceeding against a corporation is an application to liquidate that corporation. An insolvency proceeding against a person is an application to adjudicate that person bankrupt.

Neither of these kinds of proceedings guarantee payment if liquidation or bankruptcy orders are made. They are insolvency proceedings after all. Other kinds of proceedings to enforce a judgment may be available, but the costs involved in these are perhaps not as predictable as they are for insolvency proceedings.

Straightforward insolvency proceedings are likely to be regarded as ‘1A’ proceedings. It may be arguable that a particular insolvency proceeding should be regarded as a ‘2B’ proceeding in some cases, but ‘3C’ categorisation will rarely be appropriate.

A bankruptcy proceeding involves the following steps and disbursements: 44; D27; D28; 45; D29; D30; D31; 46; 29; D32. The costs of these would total $3,566 if a proceeding was regarded as ‘1A’, and $6,473 if the proceeding was regarded as ‘2B’.

$2,974 would be recoverable if ‘1A’ costs and disbursements were awarded for the items described. $4,912 would be recoverable if ‘2B’ costs and disbursements were awarded. Note the step 29 cost to prepare orders for sealing may not be awarded because that is a cost that is not specifically provided for under the ‘bankruptcy’ heading in the cost schedule. It is, however, a necessary step and it has been included for that reason. Also, note that the costs estimates assume bankruptcy is ordered at the first hearing, although this is often not the case.

A liquidation proceeding involves the following steps and disbursements: 48; D33; 49; D34; D35; D36; 50; 29; D37. The costs of these would total $3,566 if a proceeding was regarded as ‘1A’, and $6,473 if the proceeding was regarded as ‘2B’.

Of these, $2,974 would be recoverable if ‘1A’ costs and disbursements were awarded for the items described. $4,912 would be recoverable if ‘2B’ costs and disbursements were awarded.

Note the step 29 cost to prepare orders for sealing may not be awarded because that is a cost that is not specifically provided for under the ‘company liquidation’ heading in the cost schedule. It is, however, a necessary step and it has been included for that reason. There is also no specific step for arranging the necessary advertisements for a liquidation application and issuing a ‘statement as to advertising’. A fee for such attendances could properly be expected although no corresponding costs award is likely. Finally, note that the costs estimates assume liquidation is ordered at the first hearing, although this is often not the case.

District Court costs

The appropriate District Court daily recovery rate depends on how a particular case is categorised. There are three categories of cases set out in rule 14.3 of the District Court Rules 2014. They are as follows.

Category 1: Proceedings of a straightforward nature able to be conducted by counsel considered junior.

Category 2: Proceedings of average complexity requiring counsel of skill and experience considered average.

Category 3: Proceedings that because of their complexity or significance require counsel to have special skill and experience.

The daily recovery rates provided for by schedule 5 of the District Court Rules 2014 are set out in the column titled ‘Rate (2/3)’ of the following table. Remembering that those rates are only intended to amount to two thirds of what is considered reasonable, the full rate is set out in the column titled ‘Rate (3/3)’.

Category Rate (2/3) Rate (3/3)
1: Straightforward proceedings / junior counsel $1,180 $1,770
2: Average proceedings / average counsel $1,780 $2,670
3: Significant or complex proceedings / special counsel $2,640 $3,960

Various steps that may be taken by parties to a court case are described at schedule 3 of the District Court Rules 2014. That schedule also sets out how long it may take to complete each step. Three different time estimates are given for each step. They are ranked ‘A’ for the least through to ‘C’ for the greatest amount of time considered reasonable. The rankings are described as ‘bands’ by rule 14.5(2) of the District Court Rules 2014 as follows:

(2) A determination of what is a reasonable time for a step under subclause (1) must be made by reference—

(a)        to band A, if a comparatively small amount of time for the particular step is considered reasonable; or

(b)        to band B, if a normal amount of time for the particular step is considered reasonable; or

(c)        to band C, if a comparatively large amount of time is considered reasonable.

The table that follows sets out:

Columns 1 and 2: some of the steps described in schedule 4 of the District Court Rules 2014; and

Columns 3 to 5: a range for legal fees calculated by reference to daily recovery rate 1, time estimate band A, rate 2 band B and rate 3 band C. The daily recovery rates used are the full “(3/3)” rates referred to above.

Estimated disbursements involved in particular steps are also set out in the row immediately below the relevant step. Disbursements are indicated by the letter ‘D’ in the column titled ‘Step’. Fees payable to the District Court are provided for by the District Court Fees Regulations 2009.

District Court Costs Schedule
Step Description Estimate
  Commencement 1A 2B 3C
1 Preparing notice of claim or statement of claim (receiving instructions, researching facts and law, and filing and serving those documents) $1,328 $4,005 $11,880
D1 District Court filing fee $200
D2 Process service fee $200
2 Response or defence by defendant (receiving instructions, researching facts and law, and preparing and serving response or statement of defence) $1,328 $4,005 $7,920
D3 District Court filing fee $75
3 Preparing and serving information capsule by plaintiff and defendant $1,770 $5,340 $11,880
4 Filing notice of proceeding, filing response and information capsules under rule 2.15, and preparing, filing, and serving notice of pursuit of claim under rule 2.15 $443 $668 $990
5 Preparing, filing, and serving originating application $1,770 $5,340 $15,840
D4 District Court filing fee $200
D5 Process service fee $200
6 Preparing and serving notice of opposition $1,770 $4,005 $11,880
7 Other pleadings and notices: 1A 2B 3C
7.1 Counterclaim $885 $1,335 $3,960
D6 District Court filing fee $200
D7 Process service fee $200
7.2 Claims between defendants $885 $2,670 $7,920
D8 District Court filing fee $200
D9 Process service fee $200
7.3 Commencement of proceedings against third parties, including notice of claim $1,328 $4,005 $11,880
D10 District Court filing fee $200
D11 Process service fee $200
7.4 Pleading in response to other party’s amended pleading (payable regardless of outcome except where formal or consented to) $531 $1,068 $2,970
D12 District Court filing fee $75
8 Judicial settlement conference: 1A 2B 3C
8.1 Preparation for judicial settlement conference $443 $668 $990
D13 District Court scheduling fee $900
8.2 Appearance at judicial settlement conference The time occupied by the judicial settlement conference measured in quarter days
9 Interlocutory proceedings and related steps: 1A 2B 3C
9.1 Notice to answer interrogatories $531 $2,670 $7,920
9.2 Answer to interrogatories $531 $2,670 $7,920
9.3 Notice to admit facts $531 $1,335 $3,960
9.4 Admission of facts $531 $1,335 $3,960
9.5 List of documents on discovery $885 $2,670 $15,840
9.6 Production of documents for inspection $885 $2,003 $7,920
D14 Copying/scanning/indexing/(digital) storage costs
9.7 Inspection of documents $708 $2,670 $15,840
9.8 Filing and serving memorandum in anticipation of judicial conference $354 $668 $2,970
9.9 Appearance at judicial conference $531 $801 $1,188
9.10 Preparing and filing interlocutory application (excluding summary judgment application) and supporting affidavits $443 $1,068 $3,960
D15 District Court filing fee $250
9.11 Preparing and filing opposition to interlocutory application (excluding summary judgment application) and supporting affidavits $443 $1,068 $3,960
D16 District Court filing fee $90
9.12 Preparing written submissions $885 $2,670 $7,920
9.13 Preparation of bundle for hearing $443 $1,068 $3,960
D17 Printing/binding costs
9.14 Appearance at hearing of defended interlocutory application (excluding summary judgment application) for sole or principal counsel Appearance in court measured in quarter days
D18 District Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day $900
9.15 Second and subsequent counsel if allowed by court Fifty percent of allowance for appearance for principal counsel
9.16 Sealing order or judgment $354 $534 $792
D19 District Court sealing fee $50
10 Summary judgment application (additional to costs in items 1 to 5): 1A 2B 3C
10.1 Preparing and filing summary judgment application and supporting affidavits $443 $1,068 $5,940
D20 District Court filing fee $250
10.2 Preparing and filing opposition and supporting affidavits $443 $1,068 $5,940
D21 District Court filing fee $90
10.3 Preparing for hearing of defended summary judgment application The time occupied by the hearing measured in quarter days
10.4 Arguing defended summary judgment application for sole or principal counsel Appearance in court measured in quarter days
D22 District Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day $900
10.5 Second and subsequent counsel if allowed by court Fifty percent of allowance for appearance for principal counsel
11 Obtaining judgment without appearance (additional to costs in items 1 to 7): 1A 2B 3C
11.1 By default/admission $354 $534 $1,188
D23 District Court filing and sealing fee $90
D24 Process service fee $200
11.2 By formal proof (including affidavit preparations) $531 $801 $1,584
D25 District Court scheduling fee $900
D26 District Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day $900
D27 District Court sealing fee $50
D28 Process service fee $200
  Short trial 1A 2B 3C
12 Preparation $885 $1,335 $1,980
D29 District Court scheduling fee $900
13 Appearance at hearing $1,770 $4,005 $5,940
D30 District Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day $900
  Simplified trial 1A 2B 3C
14 Preparation $1,770 $3,338 $9,900
D31 District Court scheduling fee $900
15 Appearance at hearing Twice the time occupied by the hearing measured in half days
D32 District Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day $900
  Full trial 1A 2B 3C
16 Preparation for hearing following setting down or direction for trial if trial does not eventuate: 1A 2B 3C
16.1 Plaintiff’s preparation of affidavits or written or oral statements of evidence to be used at hearing $2,213 $6,008 $13,860
16.2 Plaintiff’s preparation of lists of issues and authorities, selecting documents for common bundle of documents, and all other preparation $2,213 $6,008 $13,860
16.3 Defendant’s preparation of affidavits or written or oral statements of evidence to be used at hearing $1,770 $5,340 $11,880
16.4 Defendant’s preparation of lists of issues and authorities, selecting documents for common bundle of documents, and all other preparation $1,770 $5,340 $11,880
17 Preparation: 1A 2B 3C
17.1 Where case proceeds to hearing Twice the time occupied by the hearing measured in half days
D33 District Court scheduling fee $900
17.2 Where case proceeds by formal proof $1,770 $2,670 $3,960
18 Appearance at hearing: 1A 2B 3C
18.1 For sole or principal counsel Appearance in court measured in half days
D34 District Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day $900
18.2 Second and subsequent counsel if allowed for by court Fifty percent of allowance for principal counsel
18.3 Appearance for formal proof Appearance in court measured in quarter days
D35 District Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day $900
  Enforcement and other steps 1A 2B 3C
19 Enforcement of judgment or order: $708 $1,068 $1,584
19.1 Application for charging order $708 $1,068 $1,584
D36 District Court filing fee $250
D37 Process service fee $200
19.2 Completion of financial statement under section 84A of Act $177 $267 $396
D38 District Court filing fee $65
19.3 Application for assessment of financial means under section 84C of Act $177 $267 $396
D39 District Court filing fee $80
19.4 Application for financial assessment hearing $177 $267 $396
D40 District Court filing fee $130
D41 District Court process service fee $50
19.5 Each attendance at financial assessment hearing (if the judgment debtor attends) $177 $267 $396
19.6 Application for arrest warrant if debtor fails to appear at financial assessment hearing or contempt of enforcement proceedings hearing $177 $267 $396
19.7 Application for contempt of enforcement proceedings $354 $534 $792
D42 District Court filing fee $200
D43 District Court process service fee $50
19.8 Each attendance at contempt of enforcement proceedings hearing (if the judgment debtor attends) $177 $267 $396
19.9 Application for attachment order under section 84G(1)(c) of Act (excluding application to vary, discharge, or suspend attachment order and filing agreed attachment order in accordance with section 79(5C) of Act) $177 $267 $396
D44 District Court filing fee $50
D45 Process service fee $200
19.10 Application to vary, discharge, or suspend attachment order $177 $267 $396
D46 Process service fee $200
19.11 Agreeing terms of attachment order and filing agreed attachment order in accordance with section 79(5C) of Act $89 $134 $198
19.12 Application for warrant of enforcement: recovery of chattels/seizure of property/recovery of land $354 $534 $792
D47 District Court filing fee $200
D48 Process service fee $200
19.13 Preparing and filing interlocutory application (excluding an application to vary, discharge, or suspend attachment order) and supporting affidavits $443 $1,068 $3,960
D49 District Court filing fee $250
D50 Process service fee $200
19.14 Application for warrant of committal $354 $534 $792
D51 District Court expenses
19.15 Application for writ of arrest $354 $534 $792
D52 District Court expenses
19.16 Garnishee proceedings $708 $1,068 $1,584
D53 District Court filing fee $250
D54 Process service fee $200
19.17 Third party claim proceedings (including service) $708 $1,068 $1,584
19.18 Other enforcement process $708 $1,068 $1,584
20 Other steps in the proceeding not specifically mentioned As allowed by court
21 Commencement of appeal (including assessing original decision, noting appealable points, and filing and serving notice of appeal and points of appeal) $354 $1,335 $7,920
D55 District Court filing fee $200
D56 Process service fee $200
22 Commencement of response to appeal $354 $534 $1,980
23 Case management (as for ordinary proceeding) $177 $534 $1,584
24 Preparing of case on appeal $885 $1,335 $3,960
24A Preparation of written submissions $885 $4,005 $11,880
25 Appearance at hearing as principal counsel The time occupied by the hearing measured in quarter days
D57 District Court hearing fee for each half-day or part half-day after the first half-day $900
26 Second and subsequent counsel, if allowed by court Fifty percent of allowance for appearance by principal counsel

As with the High Court costs estimates set out above, costs schedules referred to on this page cannot be regarded as perfectly accurate. Sometimes steps take less time than indicated by the schedules and sometimes they take more time. Steps that are not accounted for by the schedules may need to be taken and, as shown above, estimates are not provided for every single step that is accounted for. Keep the variable factors affecting costs in mind. Those are as described at the beginning of this page. Reference to the costs schedules can, however, be useful to provide a general idea of the kinds of costs that could be involved in a court case.

Estimate for a ‘1A’ District Court short trial

With reference to the District Court costs schedule, a straightforward District Court claim that progresses to a short trial could cost a plaintiff $7,915. Of these, $6,026 would be recoverable if ‘1A’ costs and disbursements were awarded for the items described.

That is on the basis that the proceeding is straightforward, conducted by counsel considered junior, and involving a small amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 1, band A’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes one case management conference, no interlocutory applications and a one day trial conducted by a single counsel.

The estimate accounts for the following steps and disbursements:1; D1; D2; 4; 9.8; 9.9; 12; D29; 13; D30 (1 day); 9.16; D19. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘2B’ District Court simplified trial

An average District Court claim that progresses to a simplified trial could cost a plaintiff $42,299. Of these, $29,516 would be recoverable if ‘2B’ costs and all disbursements were awarded except D14.

This estimate is made on the basis that the proceeding is average, conducted by counsel considered average, and involving a normal amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 2, band B’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes two case management conferences, a one day judicial settlement conference, no interlocutory applications, document discovery costs of $500 and a two day trial. It accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 4; 8.1; D13; 8.2 (1 day); 9.1; 9.3; 9.5; 9.6; D14 ($500); 9.7; 9.8 (x2); 9.9 (x2); 14; D31; 15 (2 day trial); D32; 9.16; D19. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘2B’ District Court full trial

An average District Court claim that progresses to a full trial could cost a plaintiff $73,931. Of these, $52,270 would be recoverable if ‘2B’ costs and all disbursements were awarded except D14.

The estimate is on the basis that the proceeding is average, conducted by counsel considered average, and involving a normal amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 2, band B’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes two case management conferences, a one day judicial settlement conference, no interlocutory applications, document discovery costs of $700 and a five day trial. It accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 4; 8.1; D13; 8.2 (1 day); 9.1; 9.3; 9.5; 9.6; D14 ($700); 9.7; 9.8 (x2); 9.9 (x2); 17.1 (5 day trial); D33; 18.1 (5 days); D34; 9.16; D19. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘2B’ District Court summary judgment

The estimated costs to complete a simplified or full trial provide incentive to settle or otherwise resolve claims early. Summary judgment can resolve appropriate cases without the full expense of a trial. For plaintiffs, an appropriate case for a summary judgment application is where the defendant has no defence to a claim. Where a defendant makes a summary judgment application it must show that the plaintiff cannot succeed with a claim. This is as provided by rule 12.2 of the District Court Rules 2014.

Summary judgment applications are typically advanced by plaintiffs either at the time they file a statement of claim, after they have received a response by the defendants or after discovery and inspection has occurred.

If a summary judgment application is advanced by a plaintiff at the time an average District Court claim is filed, then the costs to hear and determine that application could be $12,547. Of these, $8,898 would be recoverable if ‘2B’ costs and disbursements were awarded for the items described below.

The estimate is on the basis that the proceeding is of an average nature able, to be conducted by counsel considered average, and involving a normal amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 2, band B’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes a one day hearing conducted by one counsel, and accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 10.1; D20; 10.3 (1 day); 10.4 (1 day); D22; 9.16; D19. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘3C’ District Court full trial

With reference to the District Court costs schedule, a complex District Court claim that progresses to a full trial could cost a plaintiff $157,968. $108,162 of these costs would be recoverable if ‘2B’ costs and all disbursements except D14 were awarded.

The estimate is made on the basis that the proceeding is complex, conducted by counsel of special skill and involving a large amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 3, band C’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes two case management conferences, a one day judicial settlement conference, no interlocutory applications, document discovery costs of $900 and a five day trial conducted by two counsel. It accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 4; 8.1; D13; 8.2 (1 day); 9.1; 9.3; 9.5; 9.6; D14 ($900); 9.7; 9.8 (x2); 9.9 (x2); 17.1 (5 day trial); D33; 18.1 (5 days); D34; 9.16; D19. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.

Estimate for a ‘3C’ District Court summary judgment

The estimated costs to complete a full ‘3C’ trial provide incentive to settle or otherwise resolve claims early. Summary judgment can resolve appropriate cases without the full expense of a trial. For plaintiffs, an appropriate case for a summary judgment application is where the defendant has no defence to a claim. Where a defendant makes a summary judgment application it must show that the plaintiff cannot succeed with a claim. This is as provided by rule 12.2 of the District Court Rules 2016.

Summary judgment applications are typically advanced by plaintiffs either at the time they file a statement of claim, after they have received a response by the defendants or after discovery and inspection has occurred.

If a summary judgment application is advanced by a plaintiff at the time a complex District Court claim is filed, then the costs to hear and determine that application could be $28,132. Of these, $19,288 would be recoverable if ‘3C’ costs and disbursements were awarded for the items described below.

This estimate is made on the basis that the proceeding is complex, conducted by counsel of special skill, and involving a large amount of time for each step. So the proceeding would be regarded as a ‘category 3, band C’ proceeding.

The estimate assumes a one day hearing conducted by one counsel, and accounts for the following steps and disbursements: 1; D1; D2; 10.1; D20; 10.3 (1 day); 10.4 (1 day); D22; 9.16; D19. Any costs to enforce judgment are not accounted for.