Bringing or Defending a Civil Case
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5. Can I afford the expenses?

You will usually need to pay a fee to the court in order to start your claim. (However, if the person you are suing (the defendant) surrenders and pays you, you may recover this fee as well.)

If the defendant defends your claim, you may need witnesses to help tell the court what happened. You have to pay a deposit to the court for the witness expenses. You may also need to obtain a report from an expert (e.g. a doctor, mechanic or surveyor) and ask this expert to go to court to give evidence on your behalf. You will have to pay the expert's expenses and charges. (But if you win, the court may order the defendant to pay towards these.)

In addition, you have to bear your own expenses for going to court (for filing documents or attending hearings) and for travelling expenses and meals.

If you engage a lawyer to represent you, you will have to pay for the legal services rendered. You may ask the court to order the defendant to reimburse you if you win your case. But usually, you will only get a portion (about 70% on average) of your lawyer's fees and expenses.

You should also note that the court will not automatically take steps to ensure that the losing party pays the winning party. So if you win your case but the defendant does not pay, you will need to ask the court to take action to enforce your judgement, for which you will have to pay another fee.

What will happen if you are the losing party?

If you are the losing party, you will normally be ordered to pay the costs (this generally means legal costs) to the winning party. It makes no difference if you are a litigant in person (without appointing a lawyer). The costs are the expenses that the winning party has had to spend on the preparation and hearing of the matter. These include the expenses for the lawyers representing the winning party (if any). The amount of these costs can be substantial, depending on the complexity of the case, the preparation work required and the length of the hearing.

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