If I win a lawsuit, what percentage of my legal costs are covered by the losing party?
In Ontario, at the end of a trial, the successful party can request that the judge order the unsuccessful party to pay a portion of his or her legal costs. Costs can include lawyer’s fees, expert fees, travel costs, and office expenses.
There are two types of costs awards: partial indemnity costs and substantial indemnity costs.
Partial indemnity costs are more common. They are usually less than 50% of your lawyer's actual fees.
Substantial indemnity costs are higher and rarer. They are awarded primarily where the party who started the action does better at trial than the settlement offer he or she made. They can also be awarded against a party whose conduct has been reprehensible, scandalous, or outrageous.
Judges have discretion as to whether and how much to award for costs. Judges typically take into consideration whether the parties have made or rejected reasonable offers to settle, as well as their behaviour during the course of the litigation.
Costs awards can be substantial. It is advisable for a person who is embroiled in litigation to seek the guidance of a lawyer to assist him or her in understanding the consequences of making, accepting, or rejecting a settlement offer.