Cost in criminal proceedings is different from civil law legal costs because they are “compensatory and designed to mollify the burden on those who suffer the obligation of having to establish that a prosecution is not well-founded”. Criminal Costs are also only allowed under certain NSW legislation. Those laws are:

  • The Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (CPA);
  • The Costs in Criminal Cases Act 1967;
  • The Suitors Fund Act 1951;
  • The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007; and
  • The Crimes (Appeal & Review) Act 2001.

The scope of this page, however, deals only with the award for costs per CPA as this piece of legislation predominately deals with cost applications in the Local Court for summary matters.


When may the Court award costs?

Section 213 of the CPA sets out when professional costs may be awarded to accused persons: The main thrust of that section is:

  • A court may at the end of summary proceedings order that the prosecutor pay professional costs if the matter is dismissed or withdrawn;
  • The amount that the Magistrate considers must be just and reasonable; and
  • The order must specify the amount of professional costs payable.



Section 214 (CPA) however places a limit on the award of professional costs to an accused person/s. That is to say costs will only be awarded if:

  • the investigation was conducted in an unreasonable or improper manner;
  • the proceedings were initiated without reasonable cause or in bad faith or were conducted by the prosecutor in an improper manner;
  • that the prosecutor unreasonably failed to investigate (or to investigate properly) any relevant matter of which it was aware or ought reasonably to have been aware and which suggested either that the accused person might not be guilty or that, for any other reason, the proceedings should not have been brought’
  • that, because of other exceptional circumstances relating to the conduct of the proceedings by the prosecutor, it is just and reasonable to award professional costs.

Note as set out above the costs amount to be awarded is as the court considers to be just and reasonable in the circumstances.


216 Costs on adjournment

In addition to costs at the end of a criminal matter, cost may be awarded upon adjournment if the court is satisfied that the other party has incurred additional costs because of the unreasonable conduct or delays of the party against whom the order is made.

Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® are fully versed on when one can make appropriate arguments for the award of professional costs. For specific advice in relation to this matter please contact Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers®.

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