The purpose of a cost order is to compensate the successful party in litigation for those costs necessarily incurred towards vindicating his or her right and obtaining justice. The talk on “Legal Costs in India and Australia” was held on 6th February’ 17 and outlined the drift between the Indian and the Australian perspective on legal costs. It was highlighted that while in India the principle of ‘costs follow the event’ exists, it is hardly adhered to. Likewise, Australia seems to departing from the said principle due to the problem of unequal bargaining power. It was also highlighted that though costs form the backbone of civil litigation in India, there has been no revision of the stipulated amount since the 1977 amendment to Section 35A of the Code of Civil Procedure,1908. This amount till date continues to be a mere sum of Rs. 3000 (USD 50) and can only be attracted for false or vexatious suits. On the other hand, Australian legal system has a more enforceable costs provision which also sanctions imprisonment for non enforcement of an agreed cost order.
The discussion also looked into the current systems of success fees in the United States of America and the possibility of incorporating such a system in India. Currently, given the strict implementation of the rules of maintenance and champerty in India, it may not be possible to have a success fee or even a conditional fee agreement.