Costs for Self-Represented Litigants

Recently, there was a ruling on costs for a matter in which both the Applicant and the Respondent to a Motion to Change child support were self-represented. The case is Genga v Colaianni 2017 ONSC 4709 .  The successful Applicant was awarded $3000 in costs from a claimed amount of $6714.63.  Costs should be awarded so that it is fair and reasonable “from the perspective of the “reasonable unsuccessful litigant” (para. 23). Furthermore, the court included the following factors to consider from previous cases, in addition to Rule 24 of the Family Law Rules:

[13]           Self-represented litigants are entitled to costs in proceedings “calculated on the same basis as those of the litigant who retains counsel”.  The basis for assessment of costs of a self-represented person is the “loss of time through their involvement in the legal process”.  The allowance for time should be “moderate” or “reasonable” but should not be anything more than the “time and effort to do the work ordinarily done by a lawyer retained to conduct the litigation. [1]

[14]           The claim by a self-represented litigant would be for work “otherwise done by counsel or that she may have been charged for had she been represented”. [2]

[15]           An important threshold consideration is the appropriate level of indemnification, assessed by reference to degree of success and reasonableness of each party’s litigation behaviour.[3]

[16]           An unrepresented litigant’s hourly rate is one of several factors that may be considered in assessing costs. [4]

Moreover, the income of the self-represented litigant also factors in the costs consideration (see para. 17).  This case served as a good example of how costs are calculated.


Written by Heather Hui-Litwin

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