Petrograde Inc v Texaco Ltd: CA 23 May 2000

The award of costs under Rule 36.21 on an indemnity basis is not intended to be penal, and the court must look at what was fair and reasonable in the circumstances. Lord Woolf said: ‘However, it would be wrong to regard the rule [36.21] as producing penal consequences. An order for indemnity costs does not enable a claimant to receive more costs than he has incurred. Its practical effect is to avoid his costs being assessed at a lesser figure. When assessing costs on the standard basis the court will only allow costs `which are proportionate to the matters in issue’ and `resolve any doubt which it may have as to whether costs were reasonably incurred or reasonably proportionate in amount in favour of the paying party’. On the other hand, where the costs are assessed on an indemnity basis, the issue of proportionality does not have to be considered. The court only considers whether the costs were unreasonably incurred or for an unreasonable amount. The court will then resolve any doubt in favour of the receiving party. Even on an indemnity basis, however, the receiving party is restricted to recovering only the amount of costs which have been incurred (see Part 44.3 and Part 44.5).
The ability of the court to award costs on an indemnity basis and interest at an enhanced rate should not be regarded as penal because orders for costs, even when made on an indemnity basis, never actually compensate a claimant for having to come to court to bring proceedings. . . The power to order indemnity costs or higher rate interest is a means of achieving a fairer result for a claimant. If a defendant involves a claimant in proceedings after an offer has been made, and in the event, the result is no more favourable to the defendant than that which would have been achieved if the claimant’s offer had been accepted without the need for those proceedings, the message of Part 36.21 is that, prima facie, it is just to make an indemnity order for costs and for interest at an enhanced rate to be awarded. However, the indemnity order need not be for the entire proceedings nor, as I have already indicated, need the award of interest be for a particular period or at a particular rate. It must not however exceed the figure of 10 per cent referred to in Part 36.’


Lord Woolf MR


Unreported, 23 May 2000


Civil Procedure Rules 36.21


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedReid Minty (a firm) v Taylor CA 2002
New CPR govern Indemnity Costs awards
The defendant had successfully defended the main claim and now appealed against the refusal of an order for costs on an indemnity basis even though judge thought that the claimants had behaved unreasonably. He had said that some conduct deserving of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Costs, Civil Procedure Rules

Updated: 03 June 2022; Ref: scu.341786