Thomas v Bunn: HL 1991

From its enactment it was accepted that s 17 applied to orders for costs to be taxed – even though before taxation was completed there was no sum for which execution could be levied – and did so from the date of the order (the incipitur rule), not the date of the certificate of taxation (the allocatur rule), although the latter rule had for a while prevailed in Chancery.
Lord Ackner said: ‘If the words used in this section are considered in isolation, the problem would not appear to be a difficult one. It is accepted there cannot be a judgment debt until there is a judgment for a quantified sum, i.e. a final as contrasted with an interlocutory judgment. Such a final judgment is to carry interest from the time of entering up ‘the judgment’, i.e. the judgment which creates the judgment debt, i.e. the final judgment. This is made doubly clear by the provision that the interest shall run ‘until the same shall be satisfied’. Until there is a quantified sum which the judgment debtor is obliged by the terms of the judgment to pay, there is no judgment which he is able to satisfy. The final provision in the section that ‘such interest may be levied under a writ of execution on such judgment’ must refer to the judgment which has created the judgment debt. That is the final judgment.’ and . .
‘The wording of section 17 clearly envisages a single judgment which constitutes the ‘judgment debt’. This ‘judgment debt’ can only arise where the judgment itself quantifies the sum which the judgment debtor owes to his judgment creditor. The language of the section does not envisage an interlocutory judgment, but only a final judgment.’


Lord Ackner


[1991] 1 AC 362, [1991] 2 WLR 27, [1991] 1 All ER 193


Judgments Act 1838 17


England and Wales


CitedHunt v R M Douglas (Roofing) Ltd HL 1990
The plaintiff had an order ‘That the Defendants do pay to the Plaintiff his costs of this action . . to be taxed . . failing agreement’ and the House was asked as to the time from when he was entitled to interest.
Held: A litigant who has been . .

Cited by:

CitedInvolnert Management Inc v Aprilgrange Limited and Others ComC 8-Oct-2015
Date from which interest was to run on principal damages award. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Costs

Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.553255