In Queensland costs provisions are found in the Justices Act 1886, but are not an automatic right. They are mainly ordered in respect to summary hearings, indictable offences, and dismissals. The courts must be satisfied that it is just and reasonable, and be convinced that it is proper to order costs. To determine the amount of costs the court will take into account all relevant factors. These include whether the proceeding was brought and continued in good faith; whether there was a failure to take reasonable steps to investigate the matter; whether the matter was dismissed due to technical grounds and insufficient evidence, whether the defendant bought suspicion onto himself by their conduct; or whether the defendant declined to provide their version of events which may have produced evidence to exonerate them. While you are under no obligation to make a statement to police, this may be used against you when a request for costs is sought.
Amount of costs to be awarded
Any court who dismisses a complaint can order that the complainant pay the defendant costs. If the Magistrate Court deems they do not have jurisdiction to hear and determine a matter and strikes out for want of jurisdiction then they too can order that costs be awarded to the defendant. The courts when deciding the costs for a dismissal, or summary trial, they will be governed by the scale of costs prescribed under the Justices Regulation 2014, and only up to the amount allowed for the item under the scale. In some circumstances the courts can award a higher amount if the matter was complex or one of importance. If the court does allow for a costs order it is recoverable in the same manner as if the defendant had been convicted and a cost order made against him. This means that the court will pursue the costs for the defendant to ensure it is paid.
Costs awarded on Appeal
If you have lodged an appeal and are successful then the Judge can make an order for costs to be paid as they think appropriate. For matters relating to an appeal the Judge can make and order for costs for, or against you, depending on the outcome of the Appeal. However, there are no costs ordered on appeal if the matter is an indictable offence that was elected to be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court instead of being heard in the District Court. When determining a suitable costs order the Judge will take into consideration the amount allowed under the scale of costs, and has the ability to allow 20% higher if the matter is being heard in the District Court.
Scale of Costs under the Justices Regulation 2014
Schedule 2 of the Justices Regulation 2014 sets out the items for which a cost is allowed, and provides the maximum amount that can be awarded for each item. A cost is only allowed if incurring the cost was necessary to achieve justice, or to defend the rights of the defendant; or the cost was not incurred by negligence, mistake or merely at the wish of the party. The current scale of costs in the schedule are $1500 for taking instructions, preparation for hearing and one day attendance; $875.00, for each further day of the hearing; and $250 for a court attendance other than a hearing. Disbursements incurred such as travel, and accommodation of a lawyer may also be claimed if appropriate.