The issue of when in-house counsel can obtain costs against opposing counsel when
they obtain a win has created an issue for in-house lawyers, among others.
A High Court insolvency case in Christchurch recently involved Associate Judge Bell handling a case with the IRD when they sought costs, refused on the basis of precedent, but causing the Judge to strongly suggest an appeal should be lodged.
The IRD are one of the largest organisations to use their own counsel in insolvency and related matters, along with local authorities and others.
The decision in the case between barrister John Eichelbaum and Tony Gavigan involving the class action Feltex lawsuit is one of the sticking points. The Court of Appeal has ruled that Eichelbaum should not get costs when acting for himself, which was recently confirmed in another Court of Appeal case involving a self-litigant
The legal principle is that a costs award should not exceed costs actually incurred. Litigants in person are unable to recover costs and in-house lawyers fall within that exclusion also.