Introduction

 

It is a tradition in civil law that the court will assign a cost penalty to the losing party to help reimburse the winning party for the fees they had to spend for a lawyer to bring the matter before the court. The size of the award is typically based on the bill for the winning parties lawyer. In general the court would assign approximately 70 % of the lawyers bill as a cost penalty. If the losing party acted in bad faith causing unnecessary or protracted litigation, full indemnity costs may be ordered and amounts ordered may be increased to 100 % of the winning parties lawyers fees. Cost penalties are fully at the discretion of the presiding justice. Judges may alter the percent of lawyers fees awarded, or even award costs to the losing party. This study examines 510 cost penalties made against family law litigants between the years 2000 and 2008. All data was taken from the Canlii legal network and no cases that gave the dollar value of cost penalty awards were omitted. Cases which could be clearly discerned as interim motions, full divorce trials, and post divorce variations have been separated so the costs of these specific actions can be evaluated. The cases used and their results are summarized in Appendix 1. Extracts from selected cases have been included in Appendix 2. Conclusions follow the data summary below.

 

 

 

 

Cost Penalty Data Summary

 

 

 

Total Cost Penalties Against Men ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 402 Mean = 26.7 Median = 7.4 SD = 127 Total = 10733.4

0.3000 0.4000 0.5000 0.5000 0.6000 0.7000 0.7000 0.7000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.9000 0.9000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.100 1.100 1.200 1.200 1.300 1.400 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.600 1.700 1.700 1.800 1.800 1.900 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.100 2.100 2.100 2.300 2.300 2.400 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.600 2.800 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.100 3.200 3.300 3.300 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.800 3.800 3.800 3.800 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.100 4.100 4.300 4.300 4.500 4.500 4.500 4.500 4.500 4.500 4.500 4.700 4.700 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.200 5.500 5.500 5.500 5.500 5.500 5.700 5.800 5.800 5.800 5.900 5.900 5.900 6.000 6.000 6.000 6.000 6.000 6.000 6.000 6.000 6.200 6.400 6.400 6.500 6.500 6.500 6.600 6.800 6.900 7.000 7.000 7.000 7.000 7.000 7.000 7.000 7.000 7.200 7.200 7.300 7.400 7.400 7.500 7.500 7.500 7.500 7.500 7.500 7.800 8.000 8.000 8.000 8.000 8.000 8.000 8.200 8.500 8.500 8.500 8.500 8.500 8.600 8.700 8.800 9.000 9.000 9.000 9.000 9.000 9.200 9.300 9.400 9.500 9.600 9.700 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10..00 10.00 10.20 10.50 10.60 10.80 10.90 11.00 11.00 11.00 11.00 12.00 12.00 12.00 12.00 12.00 12.10 12.10 12.40 12.50 12.50 12.50 12.50 12.60 12.80 13..40 13.50 13.60 14.00 14.30 14.50 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.50 15.70 15..70 15.80 16.00 16.20 16.50 16.60 17.00 17.00 17.80 17.90 18.00 18.00 18.50 18.90 19.30 19.50 19.50 19.50 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.30 20.60 21.30 22.00 22.50 22.50 23.90 24.40 25.00 25.00 25.00 26.00 28..00 28.70 30.60 31.00 31.40 31.50 32.80 33.80 34.00 34.00 34.00 34.00 34.30 35.00 35.00 36.00 36.40 36.90 38.00 38.00 39.00 39.50 40.00 40.00 40.00 40..00 41.00 42.00 42.00 42.00 44.00 44.70 45.00 45.00 45.90 46.00 46.80 48.00 48.60 49.00 49.00 50.00 50.70 51.00 56.00 58.70 60.90 64.00 70.00 70.00 75..00 75.00 85.00 85.80 87.90 90.00 91.60 93.00 95.00 103.4 112.4 117.0 144.6 150.0 183.0 183.8 200.0 275.0 320.0 370.0 997.7 2250.

 

Total Cost Penalties Against Women ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 108 Mean = 15.9 Median = 5.4 SD = 34.1 Total = 1717.2

0.1000 0.2000 0.2000 0.3000 0.3000 0.5000 0.7000 0.7000 0.8000 1.000 1..300 1.300 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.800 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.400 2.500 2.500 2.700 3.000 3.000 3.000 3..000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.500 3.500 3.500 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.200 4.200 4.250 4.500 4.800 5.000 5.000 5.200 5.300 5.500 5.500 5.800 5.800 6.000 6.300 6..400 6.500 7.000 7.500 8.000 8.000 9.000 9.000 9.500 9.500 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 12.00 13.60 13.70 14.00 14.50 14.50 15.00 15.00 15.00 16.00 16.00 18.00 20.00 20.00 21.60 25.00 27.50 28.00 28.80 31.00 32.00 32.00 32.50 35.00 40.00 40.70 45.00 45.50 56.00 67.00 70.00 89.00 215.0 252.9

 

 

Men received ( 402 / 510 x 100 ) 79.0 % of all cost penalties. Cost penalties made against men were ( 100 [ 15.9 / 26.7 x 100 ] ) 48.4 % higher than women on average. Median cost penalties were ( 100 [ 5.4 / 7.4 x 100 ] ) 23.9 % higher. Men paid ( 10733.4 / 12450.6 x 100 ) 86.2 % of the total awards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interim Cost Penalties Against Men ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 100 Mean = 5.74 Median = 3.00 SD = 10.1 Total = 5740.0

0.4000 0.5000 0.5000 0.6000 0.7000 0.7000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 1.000 1.000 1.100 1.300 1.400 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.700 1.700 1.800 1.800 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.100 2.100 2.300 2.300 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.200 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.800 3.800 4.000 4.100 4.500 4.700 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.200 5.500 5.500 6.000 6.000 6.000 6.500 6.600 7.000 7.000 7.500 7.500 8.000 9.000 9.200 10.50 12.00 12.00 12.50 12.60 13.40 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.50 16.00 16.60 19..30 28.00 93.00

 

 

Interim Cost Penalties Against Women ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 38 Mean = 3.49 Median = 1.75 SD = 5.55 Total = 132.6

0.1000 0.2000 0.2000 0.3000 0.3000 0.5000 0.7000 0.7000 0.8000 1.000 1..300 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 4.200 4.200 5.300 5.800 6.500 8.000 10.00 13.70 32.00

 

 

Total Interim Cost Penalties ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 138 Mean = 5.12 Median = 2.75 SD = 9.10 Total = 706.6

0.4000 0.5000 0.5000 0.6000 0.7000 0.7000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 0.8000 1.000 1.000 1.100 1.300 1.400 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.700 1.700 1.800 1.800 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.100 2.100 2.300 2.300 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.500 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.200 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.800 3.800 4.000 4.100 4.500 4.700 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.200 5.500 5.500 6.000 6.000 6.000 6.500 6.600 7.000 7.000 7.500 7.500 8.000 9.000 9.200 10.50 12.00 12.00 12.50 12.60 13.40 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.50 16.00 16.60 19.30 28.00 93.00 0.1000 0.2000 0.2000 0.3000 0.3000 0.5000 0.7000 0.7000 0.8000 1.000 1.300 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 1.500 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 2.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 3.000 4.200 4.200 5.300 5.800 6.500 8.000 10.00 13.70 32.00

 

 

Interim cost penalties made against men were ( 100 [ 3.49 / 5.74 x 100 ] ) 39.2 % higher than women on average. Median interim cost penalties were ( 100 [ 1.75 / 3.00 x 100 ] ) 48.3 % higher. Assuming interim cost penalties are 70 % of fees charged by lawyers, the average lawyers fee for an interim motion is ( 5.12 100 / 70 ) 7.31 K.. The median fee is ( 2.75 x 100 / 70 ) 3.90 K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divorce Trial Cost Penalties Against Men ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 140 Mean = 59.9 Median = 21.3 SD = 209 P = 0.0

1.000 1.200 1.500 2.000 2.800 3.300 3.500 3.500 3.800 4.500 4.500 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.500 5.700 5.900 6.000 6.400 6.500 7.000 7.000 7.200 7.300 7..500 7.500 8.000 8.000 8.500 8.600 8.800 9.000 9.000 9.000 9.400 9.700 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.60 10.80 11.00 11.00 12.00 12.00 12.10 12.10 12.50 12.50 13.60 14.30 14.50 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.70 16.20 17.00 17.90 18.00 18.90 19.50 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.30 20.60 22.00 22.50 22.50 23.90 24.40 25.00 25.00 26.00 28.70 30.60 31.00 31.40 31.50 32.80 33.80 34.00 34.00 34.00 34.30 35.00 35.00 36.00 36.40 36.90 38.00 38.00 39.00 39.50 40.00 40.00 40.00 41.00 42.00 42.00 42.00 44.70 45.00 45.00 46.00 46.80 48.00 48.60 49.00 49.00 50.00 50.70 51.00 60.90 64.00 70.00 75.00 75.00 85.00 85.80 87.90 90.00 91.60 95.00 103.4 112.4 117.0 144.6 150.0 183.0 183.8 200.0 275.0 320.0 997.7 2250.

 

 

Divorce Trial Cost Penalties Against Women ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 30 Mean = 39.6 Median = 19.0 SD = 54.7 P = 0.0

1.300 3.000 4.000 7.000 9.000 9.500 10.00 10.00 12.00 13.60 14.00 14.50 15.00 15.00 18.00 20.00 25.00 27.50 28.80 32.00 32.50 40.00 40.70 45.00 45.50 67.00 70.00 89.00 215.0 252.9

 

 

Total Divorce Trial Cost Penalties ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 170 Mean = 56.3 Median = 20.5 SD = 191 P = 0.0

1.000 1.200 1.300 1.500 2.000 2.800 3.000 3.300 3.500 3.500 3.800 4.000 4.500 4.500 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.500 5.700 5.900 6.000 6.400 6.500 7.000 7..000 7.000 7.200 7.300 7.500 7.500 8.000 8.000 8.500 8.600 8.800 9.000 9.000 9.000 9.000 9.400 9.500 9.700 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.60 10.80 11.00 11.00 12.00 12.00 12.00 12.10 12.10 12.50 12.50 13.60 13.60 14.00 14.30 14.50 14.50 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.00 15.70 16.20 17.00 17.90 18.00 18.00 18.90 19.50 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.30 20.60 22.00 22.50 22.50 23.90 24.40 25.00 25.00 25.00 26.00 27.50 28.70 28.80 30.60 31.00 31.40 31.50 32.00 32.50 32.80 33.80 34.00 34.00 34.00 34.30 35.00 35.00 36.00 36.40 36.90 38.00 38.00 39.00 39.50 40.00 40.00 40.00 40.00 40.70 41.00 42.00 42.00 42.00 44.70 45.00 45.00 45.00 45.50 46.00 46.80 48.00 48.60 49.00 49.00 50.00 50.70 51.00 60.90 64.00 67.00 70.00 70.00 75.00 75.00 85.00 85.80 87.90 89.00 90.00 91.60 95.00 103.4 112.4 117.0 144.6 150.0 183.0 183.8 200.0 215.0 252.9 275.0 320.0 997.7 2250.

 

 

Divorce trial cost penalties made against men were ( 100 [ 39.6 / 59.9 x 100 ] ) 33.9 % higher than women on average. Median divorce trial cost penalties were ( 100 [ 19.0 / 21.3 x 100 ] ) 10.8 % higher. Assuming divorce trial cost penalties are 70 % of fees charged by lawyers, the average lawyers fee for an interim motion is ( 56.3 100 / 70 ) 80.4 K. The median fee is ( 20.3 x 100 / 70 ) 29.0 K

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variation Cost Penalties Against Men ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 54 Mean = 11.3 Median = 6.2 SD = 13.1 P = 0.0

0.3000 0.8000 0.8000 0.9000 1.000 1.500 1.500 1.900 2.500 2.500 2.600 3.300 3.500 3.500 3.800 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.100 4.300 5.000 5.000 5.800 5.800 5.800 5.900 6.000 6.400 7.000 7.500 8.500 8.700 9.500 9.600 10.00 10.00 10.90 11.00 12.00 12.40 12.50 13.50 15.00 15.00 15.70 17.00 18.00 21.30 25.00 34.00 40.00 45.90 56.00 58.70

 

 

Variation Cost Penalties Against Women ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 17 Mean = 12.5 Median = 6.4 SD = 14.3 P = 0.0

2.500 3.500 4.000 4.500 4.800 5.000 5.200 5.500 6.400 7.500 9.000 9.500 10.00 16.00 28.00 35.00 56.00

 

 

Total Variation Cost Penalties ( in 1000 $s )

Number = 71 Mean = 11.5 Median = 6.4 SD = 13.3 P = 0.0

0.3000 0.8000 0.8000 0.9000 1.000 1.500 1.500 1.900 2.500 2.500 2.500 2.600 3.300 3.500 3.500 3.500 3.800 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.000 4.100 4.300 4.500 4.800 5.000 5.000 5.000 5.200 5.500 5.800 5.800 5.800 5.900 6.000 6.400 6.400 7.000 7.500 7.500 8.500 8.700 9.000 9.500 9.500 9.600 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.90 11.00 12.00 12.40 12.50 13.50 15.00 15.00 15.70 16.00 17.00 18.00 21.30 25.00 28.00 34.00 35.00 40.00 45.90 56.00 56.00 58.70

 

 

Variation cost penalties made against women were ( 100 [ 11.3 / 12.5 x 100 ] ) 9.6 % higher than men on average. Median variation cost penalties were ( 100 [ 6.2 / 6.4 x 100 ] ) 3.1 % higher. Assuming variation cost penalties are 70 % of fees charged by lawyers, the average lawyers fee for a variation is ( 11.5 100 / 70 ) 16.4 K. The median fee is ( 6.4 x 100 / 70 ) 9.1 K

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusions

 

 

 

Cost Penalties ( in 1000 $s )

 

 

 

All Penalties

Interim Motions

Divorce Trials

Variations

         

Male ( mean / median )

26.7 / 7.4

5.74 / 3.00

59.9 / 21.3

11.3 / 6.2

Female ( mean / median )

15.9 / 5.4

3.49 / 1.75

36.9 / 19.0

12.5 / 6.4

         

Total ( mean / median )

 

5.12 / 2.75

56.3 / 20.5

11.5 / 6.4

 

 

 

 

Lawyers Fees ( in 1000 $s )

 

 

All Penalties

Interim Motions

Divorce Trials

Variations

         

Male ( mean / median )

38.1 / 10.6

8.20 / 4.29

85.6 / 30.4

16.1 / 8.9

Female ( mean / median )

22.7 / 7.7

4.98 / 2.50

52.7 / 27.1

17.9 / 9.1

         

Total ( mean / median )

 

7.31 / 3.90

80.4 / 29.0

16.4 / 9.1

 

 

 

 

 

Men received 79.0 % of all cost penalties, and paid 86.2 % of the total dollar value of all awards. Men paid higher cost penalties in every category except for variations where women paid slightly higher penalties. The average lawyers fee for a full divorce trial is 80.4 K, and the median fee is 29.0 K. A full divorce trial would typically cost a divorcing family at least 60 K. The average lawyers fee for an interim motion is 7..3 K, and the median fee is 3.9 K. An interim motion would typically cost a divorcing family at least 8 K. The average lawyers fee for a variation is 16.4 K, and the median is 9.1 K. A variation would typically cost a divorced family at least 18 K.