In the recent decision of Josey v InvestaFox Pty Limited  NSWSC 827 the Supreme Court of New South Wales consider the legal costs implications when legal proceedings are dismissed.
P commenced legal proceedings seeking specific performance of a deed that saw D grant P a drainage easement. Shortly afterwards, the proceedings were dismissed by agreement.
When proceedings are dismissed normally the plaintiff will pay the defendant’s legal costs, unless the Court says otherwise: Uniform Civil Procedure Rule r42.20.
P said D had engaged in unreasonable delay in relation to the deed, forcing P to commence proceedings.
D said the deed had not been entered into properly before the proceedings were commenced.
There was a degree of delay of delay and disorganisation about entering into the deed, and confusion about when the counterparts were executed.
There was some suggestion that D might have engaged in unreasonable delay, but there was also a complaint that it took P the best part of a year to pay an $800 invoice required by the deed.
Due to the delay in progressing the matter, the Court found it was not unreasonable for P to have commenced proceedings.
However, the Court ordered each party to pay its own costs.
This judgment confirms that a plaintiff may stand disappointed if it relies too heavily on r42.20 to carry the day.