Circular No. 28/16: Feedback on the Award of Costs by the Courts

It has come to the notice of the Bar Council that a discernible trend of awarding low costs to the successful litigant has emerged in recent years.

We have heard rumblings at the Bar that the courts very often give extremely low costs, and worse still, in some cases make no award of costs to the successful litigant. And the costs awarded are substantially lower than what used to be awarded 25 years ago. This cannot be right as it goes against the fundamentals of litigation that a successful party ought to be compensated in terms of costs. Although costs are discretionary, the discretion ought to be exercised judicially and not arbitrarily. Low costs cannot be justified on the ground of providing access to justice as it is not only unfair to the successful litigant but also sends a wrong message to all prospective litigants and appellants.

The issue was discussed by the Bar Council and a decision was taken to make appropriate representations to the Chief Justice of Malaysia. In order to build a strong case, the Bar Council has asked the State Bars to furnish further and better particulars on this issue, such as instances where low or no costs were awarded by the courts.

I seek the support and co-operation of members of the Johore Bar to share your experience of knowledge regarding this matter so that we can take it up with the relevant authorities.  Kindly complete the enclosed form and return the same to the Johore Bar Secretariat before 15th August 2016. As the information you give may be sensitive you have our assurance that it would be treated confidentially.


S. Gunasegaran

Feedback Form on the Award of Costs

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