Medway Oil and Storage Co Ltd v Continental Contractors Ltd: HL 1929

The court set down the principles to be applied when apportioning costs between a claim and counterclaim. Where both the claim and the counter-claim are dismissed with costs, the amount that the Claimant will recover in defeating the counter-claim are the costs that arose solely defending the counter-claim, (for example counsel’s fee for settling the defence to counterclaim) together with costs that were common to both claim and counterclaim. Absent a special direction by the court as to the apportionment of costs between the parties, any such order made on a detailed assessment will produce an element of injustice between the parties in a case where the same issue arises on both claim and counterclaim. Viscount Haldane said: ‘The distinction, between division and apportionment may in certain circumstances be a thin one’ but it was fundamental.
There may be items which on their face are single but in reality double, that is, in part relate to the claim and in part relate to the counter-claim; and, will add, in part to one issue and in part to another: ‘In such cases there must be a division’.

Viscount Haldane
[1929] AC 88
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedHorth v Thompson QBD 6-Jul-2010
After a personal injury claim, the judge had apportioned liability and ordered each side to pay the costs of the other. The case had been allocated to the fast track.
Held: The appeal failed. The existence of the Conditional Fee Agreement did . .
ConfirmedBurchell v Bullard and others CA 8-Apr-2005
Each side had succeeded in part on their claims and counterclaims, but the Respondent was andpound;5,000 out of pocket. Each party had been ordered to pay the costs of the other.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The judge had correctly recognised . .
CitedParkes v Martin CA 9-Jul-2009
The claimant appealed against the costs order made after a trial following a road traffic accident, awarding blame as to 65% for the Claimant and 35% to the defendant. The Defendant had requested costs in that proportion. After reminding himself of . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.420382