There are provisions in the Rules of Civil Procedure which provide that if a plaintiff brings a lawsuit in Superior Court and recovers an amount that is within the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court ($25,000), it is open to the court to order that the plaintiff shall not recover any of its legal costs of the lawsuit.
The rationale behind these provisions is straightforward. If a litigant fails to recover more than $25,000, then its claim ought to have been brought in the Small Claims Court which provides for a more streamlined, less expensive, procedure. A plaintiff, theoretically, ought not to be awarded costs for engaging a more cumbersome, expensive, legal process.
While the Rules give the court the authority to deny costs, they also give the court the authority to award costs notwithstanding that the amount recovered fell below $25,000.
In a recent decision, the plaintiff sued for over $400,000 for wrongful dismissal and was awarded a judgment of only $13,520.
The defendant not only argued that the plaintiff should have no costs, but also argued that in the circumstances of the case the plaintiff ought to pay the defendant’s costs.
The judge disagreed and awarded the plaintiff $92,030.98 in costs to go along with its judgment for $13,520.