Optical Services (Jersey) Ltd, I. Kenny and J. Kenny v Carey Olsen, Philipott and Leeuwenburg

CourtPetty Debts Court (Jersey)
Judgment Date12 May 2015
Date12 May 2015

(Thompson, Relief Magistrate):


Civil Procedure—costs—litigants in person—advocates

Eviction proceedings had been brought against the plaintiffs in the Petty Debts Court. The landlords had been represented in those proceedings by the defendants (the first defendant was the firm of advocates, the second defendant was the partner responsible for the case and the third defendant had had day–to–day responsibility for the proceedings). The Assistant Magistrate had declined jurisdiction on the ground that the rent payable under the lease exceeded the limits set out in art. 1(2) of the Petty Debts Court (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Jersey) Law 2000. The plaintiffs brought a claim against the defendants seeking to recover their costs of the eviction proceedings. The defendants were represented in that claim by an employee of the first defendant. The plaintiffs’ claim was dismissed and the first defendant applied for its costs.

Held: (1) The first defendant (as a partnership appearing through an employee) had appeared in person, with the employee acting as its agent. It could recover costs under r.12/6 of the Royal Court Rules 2004 as a litigant in person (i.e. if it could show that the time spent on the case had caused it pecuniary loss, it could recover the lower of the amount lost for the time reasonably spent doing the work or two–thirds of the sum that would have been allowed if he had been represented by an independent advocate). A law firm, like any other business, had a choice whether to appear for itself or to instruct and pay an independent lawyer to represent it. Lawyers should not be treated any differently from other professions or businesses which bring or defend claims in court. The fact that lawyers had the skills to appear in person did not mean that they should be treated any differently in terms of the costs that could be recovered. The English...

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