Once a judgment has been handed down, the successful party is generally awarded costs. This is decided upon the Court’s discretion. Courts may choose not to award costs or only partially award costs. The Court will set a tariff of the costs, and the party who is awarded costs will prepare a bill of cost that the taxing master taxes per the applicable tariff.

The types of costs that a court can award

Party and party costs are incurred by instituting an action or application and defending same. These are specific to the matter in Court and only include costs, charges and expenses necessary during proceedings. Party and party costs do not make provision for any costs incurred before a Summons or Notice of Motion are issued or consultations between the client and the attorney on record. These costs are subject to court tariffs.

Attorney and own client costs are costs that an attorney is entitled to recover for professional fees and disbursements incurred on behalf of the client wherein the attorney was mandated. In this instance, the taxing master must regulate the reasonableness of the charges on an attorney and client scale. In the case of Coetzee v Taxing Master, South Gauteng High Court and Another (2010/ 14197) [2012] ZAGPJHC 175; 2013 (1) SA 74 (GSJ) (19 September 2012), the Court held that “the payment by a client to the client’s own attorney is not aimed at a full indemnity, but rather is aimed at a payment of a
reasonable recompense for services rendered.” 1

Costs de bonis propriis are awarded only in reasonably severe cases, such as cases of dishonesty, wilfulness or negligence to a serious degree. The Constitutional Court in SA Liquor Traders’ Association and others v Chairperson, Gauteng Liquor Board and others 2009 (1) SA 565 (CC) held that “An order of costs de bonis propriis is made against attorneys where a court is satisfied that there has been negligence in a serious degree 1 Coetzee v Taxing Master, South Gauteng High Court and Another (2010/ 14197) [2012] ZAGPJHC 175; 2013 (1) SA 74 (GSJ) at para 10. which warrants an order of costs being made as a mark of the CCourt’s displeasure. An attorney is an officer of the Court and owes a court an appropriate level of professionalism and courtesy.”

Interest is payable on costs from the date of the taxing master’s allowance of the taxed bill of costs and is calculated at the prescribed legal interest rate.


Where you find yourself as a party to a litigious process, it is wise to ensure that you know the options available when requesting a cost order from the Court and the consequences thereof.

Contact an attorney at SchoemanLaw for your legal needs.