District Court Costs and Special Circumstances

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District Court Costs and Special Circumstances

Published 20 abril 2023

There is a general consensus that the introduction of the Personal Injury Guidelines in Ireland will result in a decrease in the level of awards of lower end Circuit Court (minimum jurisdiction of €15,000) cases and an increase in the amount of cases that issue in the District Court (maximum jurisdiction of €15,000). Therefore there is an increased focus on District Court costs which unlike Circuit Court costs are governed by a set scale which is contained in Statutory Instrument No. 17 of 2014 (https://www.courts.ie/content/schedule-costs).

The scale of costs is very clear as to what costs are applicable to a given case and is very useful for defendants when negotiating costs as it limits ongoing back and forth in negotiating that is usually seen with Circuit Court costs. However, there is a general feeling that the District Court scale is too low and may lead to solicitors declining to take on lower level cases.

There is a provision in the District Court Rules, under Order 53 Rule 2, for the Court to allow costs in excess of that allowed on the scale in cases of “special circumstances”. Such an application can be made to a Judge at the conclusion of a case and any information or document which establishes the “special circumstances” in the case to support such an application must be produced. “Special circumstances” are not defined and what constitutes “special circumstances” is likely to be an area of dispute between Plaintiffs and Defendants.

The scale was introduced in 2014 and has not been revised since despite the District Court Rules stating that is must be reviewed no less frequently than once every three years. It has been suggested that since the introduction of the Personal Injury Guidelines, the scale should no longer apply.

However, for the time being it is in place and is applicable to cases that attract District Court costs. It is presumed that with increased focus on the District Court in the coming years the scale will eventually have to be revised. Until that is done there will likely be increased applications to use “special circumstances” to get costs above what is allowed on the scale. It should be kept in mind by Defendants and Insurers that such applications are not the norm and should be resisted where possible.


Edmond Stafford

Edmond Stafford


+35 312 319 620

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