Bell Lawyers Ltd v Janet Pentelow & Anor

Wed Sep 18 2019

As members are aware, a costs order in favour of a litigant in person does not confer entitlement to compensation or remuneration for the litigant’s own work. An exception to that general rule previously allowed a self-represented solicitor to recover such compensation. This was the Chorley exception, established in London Scottish Benefit Society v Chorley (1884) 13 QBD 872.

On 4 September this year in Bell Lawyers Ltd v Pentelow [2019] HCA 29, the High Court held that the general rule applies to a self-represented lawyer and that the Chorley exception is not part of the common law of Australia. It follows that a barrister or solicitor as litigant who obtains a favourable costs order cannot recover compensation or remuneration for his or her own work as costs payable under the order. Members may read the High Court decision here.

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