Recovering the Costs of Litigation.

Costs associated with litigation can be expensive.  Courts charge filing fees, investigators charge fees for serving documents on your opponent, the law requires parties to pay witness fees, expert witnesses charge a pretty penny for their time, court reporters charge for their time at depositions and hearings and they also charge per page to prepare transcripts of those proceedings.  These costs add up, especially in litigation that lasts for years.  So what costs can you recover from your opponent?

According to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, a prevailing party is entitled to recover some of its costs from the losing party.  735 ILCS 5/5-108 and 5-109.  However, not all costs are recoverable.  Recoverable costs have been defined as “allowances in the nature of incidental damages awarded by law to reimburse the prevailing party, to some extent at least, for the expenses necessarily incurred in the assertion of his rights in court.”  Galowich v. Beech Aircraft Corp., 92 Ill. 2d 157, 165-66 (1982).  This definition includes expenses paid to a third party, such as expert witness fees, special process server fees, court reporter fees, and court filing fees.  Johnson v. Thomas, 342 Ill.App.3d 382, 401-402 (1st Dist. 2003).

In contrast, costs that are not recoverable include charges your lawyer incurs independent of a specific case, which are often referred to as overhead.  Overhead includes telephone charges, delivery charges, photocopying, check processing, and paralegal and secretarial assistance.  Johnson v. Thomas, 342 Ill.App.3d at 401-402; Kaiser v. MEPC American Properties, Inc., 164 Ill. App. 3d 978, 989 (1987). The reason: overhead costs, at least in theory, are already reflected in an attorney’s hourly rate, which are separate from “costs”.  Harris Trust & Savings Bank, 230 Ill. App. 3d 591, 599 (1st Dist. 1992).  Recovery of attorneys’ fees will be addressed in a separate blog.  So stay tuned.

If you have any questions about filing litigation in Illinois, contact the experienced litigation attorneys at DeBlasio & Gower LLC.  To schedule an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys, call us at (630) 560-1123 or contact us via our website at

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