Mathieson v Thomson: SCS 1853

Lord Rutherford said: ‘There may be some difficulty in defining exactly what is a dominus litis; but I confess that I very much agree with what has been laid down by your Lordship [Lord President McNeill, later Lord Colonsay], and with the definition quoted from the civil law by Lord Ivory, that he is a party who has an interest in the subject-matter of the suit, and, through that interest, a proper control over the proceedings in the action. Now it will not make a person liable in the expenses of an action that he instigated the suit, or told a man that he had a good cause of action, and that he would be a fool if he did not prosecute it, or though he promoted it by more substantial assistance. It will not make him liable in the expenses of the suit that, while he does both of these things, he shall have some ultimate consequent benefit in the issue of that suit. But when you go a step further, and find a party with a direct interest in the subject-matter of the litigation, and, through that interest, master of the litigation itself, having the control and direction of the suit, with power to retard it, or push it on, or put an end to it altogether, then you have a proper character of dominus litis; and, though another name may be substituted, the party behind is answerable for the expenses.’


Lord Rutherford


(1853) 16 D 19



Cited by:

CitedTravelers Insurance Company Ltd v XYZ SC 30-Oct-2019
Challenge to the making of a non-party costs order under section 51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 against the product liability insurer of one of the defendants in litigation being managed under a Group Litigation Order (‘GLO’). Many of the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 05 May 2022; Ref: scu.676872