LEGAL COSTS – can you recover them from your opponent after winning a legal dispute?

Kuldeep S. Clair, our senior Consultant Solicitor in Dispute Resolution and Employment Law offers his views on this important topic: 

This question is understandably a common initial concern for many clients when they are deciding whether to issue court / tribunal proceedings, and  also when they are defending proceedings against them. 

The rules are complex and not automatic. They depend on the discretion of the Judge, and on things like the nature of the claim and the particular court or tribunal that you are in. Let’s go through a few guidelines but please remember to refer to the exceptions I have outlined later as well: 

  1. Employment tribunals – you will not recover your legal costs if you win, and will not have to pay the other side’s legal costs if you lose either. 
  • Civil money claims of less than £10,000 – as above, apart from relatively nominal fixed amounts totaling probably a few hundred pounds in most cases. (The other side will pay your court fees.)
  • Civil money claims above £10,000 – You will usually be able to recover a large proportion of legal costs which are reasonably incurred. What that means is that there is still a duty on your solicitors to act reasonably in the conduct of a claim so that whatever shortfall payable by you is as small as possible.   
  • Other civil claims, such as landlord/tenant, employment, commercial claims, company disputes – as per 3 above. The court is more likely to award you costs in a matter which is of higher value, since judges do not want to encourage people to clog up the courts with low-value disputes. But the value of the claim is only one factor, and of course, disputes can concern many other issues than just money. 

All of these principles can be overridden by the basic exception which is that a court or tribunal may award costs against a party if he/she has behaved in a manner which is regarded by the Judge as appalling or un-co-operative, and which has increased the legal costs incurred by the other side. It is important to appreciate that this does not mean just by losing the case. Clearly someone always has to lose. It means seriously inappropriate behavior, such as pursuing a utterly hopeless or dishonest case which was absolutely bound to fail. Or using litigation as a device to abuse or harass an opponent. 

If you are advised by your lawyer that all your legal costs will definitely be covered or recovered from the other side, you should remain skeptical. I always advise my clients honestly and fully about the merits of their case and also about the position on costs.  There are no guarantees concerning costs, other than through certain kinds of legal insurance. The problem with that kind of ‘after-the-event’ insurance is that it is only suitable for certain kinds of situations and cases, and it is also quite expensive. I can discuss those options with you in detail. 

Your best bet is to have a solicitor who has the experience and perspective to give you honest, forthright advice about the positive and negative aspects of your case, to prepare your case thoroughly, and fight your case vigorously once you have given clear instructions.  

If you have any queries about a dispute, please feel free to contact me initially without obligation. 

Kuldeep S. Clair 

Consultant Solicitor

Employment, Dispute Resolution and Litigation

+44 (0) 7484 61 4090

Follow by Email

A Victory for Our Client in the Employment Tribunal

Our client was employed as a bus driver and had 18 years of continuous employment. He had a clean record with no warnings or incidents. 

While driving in the rain, he had been involved in one unexplained low-speed accident which resulted in a collision with three parked cars and a fence. This caused about £40,000 of damage. He believed that the brakes on his vehicle had failed, although the employer had carried out tests and found nothing to be wrong.

There was video evidence of the bus journey, including in the driver’s cab. This showed that he was obviously awake and not distracted at the time that the accident occurred. 

The cause of the accident could only be complete unexplained negligence by our client, the driver, but he did not accept that. He disputed it from the very first time that the employer interviewed him. The company dismissed him within a couple of weeks, and his internal appeal was also unsuccessful.  

Attempts to negotiate a compromise were unsuccessful and this led to a hearing recently at Watford Employment Tribunal. One of the large ‘magic circle’ City law firms and their specialist employment barrister opposed us all along. 

Our employment solicitor, Kuldeep Clair, handled the case for us, and also advocated at the tribunal.

The decision of the tribunal came a month after a three-day hearing. We pointed out how the company had not considered theoretical alternative explanations for the accident, and how disclosure of the brake test reports had come extraordinarily late. The company’s culture of hostility to lawyers representing employees was also criticised; their HR appeals manager had been uncooperative and failed to look at the original decision afresh. 

The negative side was the following:

The tribunal felt that the employer can conclude the brakes were not faulty. This is in the light of all of the evidence, and lack of a positive alternative explanation from the client.

Decisions to dismiss are rarely black and white. They need to fall in a ‘band of reasonable responses’. A tribunal will always be looking at the overall reasonableness of the employer’s decision taking account of the full circumstances.   

However, we were successful in pointing out the procedural irregularities throughout. The tribunal decided that if the employer had adopted a proper procedure, there was a 30% possibility that the employer’s decision might have been in favour of our client. So, he received only a proportion of his full damages. However, that was enough to cover the trial costs. He fought the case as a matter of principle, and so he was pleased with the result. He had few ongoing losses as he found an alternative job three months after being dismissed in any event.

If you would like advice on any aspect of employment or business law, please contact us directly:

Kuldeep S. Clair

Consultant Solicitor 

+44 7 484 614 090

Debt and Money Claims in the UK

Debt and Money Claims: personal or on behalf of businesses, whether you are pursuing or defending

We are accustomed to recovering money or defending claims for monetary sums on behalf of our clients.

Unfortunately, the fact that it is not possible to recover hardly any legal costs in cases in ‘small claims’ cases  means that it may not be worth instructing us unless, practically, the dispute involves a sum of at least £6,000.

Having said that, sometimes our clients want to pursue their debtor as a matter of principle, even if the net sum recovered for them is a small proportion of the total sum that was due. That is entirely understandable.

Not all debt claims end in success. There is often a lot of frustration along the way. The lawyer’s job is very difficult. But often, we are very successful.

Sterling Law have concluded a settlement in a case where we had been acting for an architect who had been dealing with a company in the building trade. Several of our client company’s invoices totaling almost £9,000 over the early part of 2018 had remained unpaid for 5-6 months, despite repeated demands for payment. The debtor had just completely ‘blanked’ our client.

We have now received the final instalment in payment from the debtor company in this case, against whom we obtained judgment. This has been paid to our client, the creditor company. Of course our client’s director has expressed his delight at the outcome. 


The defendant, despite being a highly qualified professional, ignored our two ‘letters before action.’ He then ignored our issue of the court proceedings. We then obtained ‘judgement-in-default’ against his company. He then sprung into action when was threatened to face enforcement of the judgement. Various excuses were made, including blaming his accountants for not receiving the letters and court papers on time, even though they were sent to the correct registered office of the company. Ultimately, the director threatened that he would dissolve his company unless we accepted half the sum due, in full and final settlement.

We were not going to be fobbed off by this nonsense and advised our client accordingly. We had no reason to believe that the defendant company was on the verge of insolvency, and if it was so, we questioned why the director had half the sum sitting in his bank account, available to be paid immediately.

Ultimately, we obtained agreement for half the debt under the judgement to be paid immediately (which it duly was, this week), and for the second half next month.

Our client was delighted with the result; a combination of litigation and tough negotiation achieved a great result. If we had merely launched into enforcing the judgment, it would have taken much longer to obtain the money and costs (payable by our client and not all recoverable from the other side) would have been higher.

If you have a dispute upon which you need advice, please contact us. We can either represent you in court or just provide advice at an initial consultation.

Please contact Kuldeep S. Clair, Consultant Solicitor and Advocate, directly:


Mobile: 07484 614090

Tel. 020 7822 8599


Excellent news! The appeal regarding removal directions for our client was allowed!

Our client, a national of Pakistan, married an EU national who is exercising treaty rights in the UK and has a permanent residence here. After entering the UK with an EEA family permit our client successfully obtained an EEA residence card. A year into the marriage, the wife’s sister tragically passed away in Brazil leaving behind four minor children. Deeply affected by this loss, our client and his spouse decided to adopt these children. So our client’s wife went to Brazil for around 6 months to resolve various matters regarding the adoption.

At the date his wife was returning to the UK Immigration Officers came to our client’s home and interviewed him.

  • His request to postpone the interview (he was not feeling well) was ignored.
  • The immigration Officers did not make any notes regarding this request.
  • They did not pay attention to the fact that our client’s wife returned to the UK on the interview date and it would be useful to interview her as well before making any immigration decision.
  • Moreover, Immigration Officers even made several offensive Islamophobic remarks regarding our client’s appearance.

Relying on the interview records the Home Office made removal directions for our client on the grounds that

he misused the right to reside in the UK since his EEA sponsor left the UK just one month after his arrival in the UK and has not returned since (that was wrong).


Sterling Law successfully appealed this decision pointing out that there was a specific reason for the wife’s absence (adoption). The judge allowed the appeal and found that the Home Office decision was disproportionate.

Thanks to our lawyers Jekaterina Trubina and Shakir Hussain our clients are able to continue their family life in the UK and care for the wife’s sister children after adoption.


Similar immigration problem? Do you believe the Home Office made a wrong decision? Contact our experienced lawyers for professional advice.

Book consultation here:

Or book a free 15 min phone call with us!

Or just email us:

A wife, who’s British husband suffers from cancer allowed to stay in the UK

Our client, a Brazilian national, came to the UK on a student visa. Although her applications for leave to remain were unsuccessful, she remained in the UK. She met her British husband several years later and after he was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. After that our client started to provide him with required daily care. Our client applied for leave to remain under the 10-year partner route. However, her application was refused on the basis that the ‘insurmountable obstacles’ requirement was not met.

What is ‘insurmountable obstacles’?

In accordance with para EX.2. Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, insurmountable obstacles are defined as ‘the very significant difficulties which would be faced by the applicant or their partner in continuing their family life together outside the UK and which could not be overcome or would entail very serious hardship for the applicant or their partner’.

Sterling Law successfully appealed the Home Office refusal. The Judge considered all the evidence that Sterling Law put forward. As a result, the court decision favoured our client.


There are genuine insurmountable obstacles in this appeal:

 The Sponsor has lung cancer

 He is still unwell since his operation and chemotherapy,

He needs very regular checks and follow-up appointments which could not take place in Brazil.

Neither the spouse nor the appellant has connections in Brazil AND  

…they have no means of making an income

BECAUSE the appellant has been living in the UK for around 17 years.


It would be not fair to remove our client from the UK. The harm to her private life would not be proportional.

Although our client overstayed her last granted leave for several years, she:

has no criminal convictions,

speaks very good English,

has integrated into life in the UK

is not dependent on the public purse.


Bearing in mind these facts and the amount of care our client provides to her British husband, the Judge found that

there is more than mere hardship in this appeal’,

and then went on to conclude that ‘I do not find it reasonable to expect the appellant to be removed from the UK’.

Thus, the appeal was allowed and our client was subsequently granted leave to remain in the UK by the Home Office.

Similar immigration problem? Do you believe the Home Office made a wrong decision? Contact our experienced lawyers for professional advice.

Book consultation here:

Or book a free 15 min phone call with us!

Or just email us:

Successful ILR application as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), accelerated route

Fantastic news for Sterling Law as an application for indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant (accelerated route) was successful.

Our client, who entered the UK as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, had established a successful business in the UK which, as a result of his services, saw a net increase in gross income from business activity of at least £5 million during a 3-year continuous period. As a result, our client was eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after 3 years of leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant.

Applications of this type can be very complex and great attention to details is required, especially considering the large amount of documents submitted in support of the application and the complexity of the Immigration Rules. However, due to the meticulous work by Oksana Demyanchuk and her team, our client faced no such problem and his application was approved by the Home Office without any issue.

Interested? Book your consultation now!


Oksana Demyanchuk


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535


UK Visitor visa under 3 working days

Famous celebrity/ songwriter got her visitor visa to the UK just under 3 working days! Very rare type of application under the Visitor Visa Permitted Paid Engagement route was handled by our immigration lawyer Nollienne Alparaque! This type of visitor visa allows professional artists, entertainers, musicians or sportspersons to carry out an activity directly connected to their profession! If you are interested in obtaining a visitor visa to the UK, please do not hesitate to contact Sterling & Law.

You can schedule an appointment with Nollienne through this link. Alternatively, you can always contact her on or 020 7822 8535

Is birth certificate enough for the Home Office to prove your parenthood?

Our clients, who are nationals of Albania, have an adult daughter living in the UK with her EEA national husband. Two years after their daughter had successfully obtained a Residence Card (in accordance with Regulation 18 of The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016), they applied for an EEA family permit to enter the UK and join their adult daughter. However, their applications were refused on the grounds that the Birth Certificate(provided as evidence of parental relationship) was not considered as adequate since it was issued less than 1 year ago.

In the Home Office’s refusal letters it was stated that THIS birth certificate is required support by either historical document regarding the parentage or even DNA test results.

The Sterling Law team successfully represented these clients in this out of country Appeal. After considering the Albanian procedure on issuing birth certificates and our client’s daughter statement explaining why they could not locate the original birth certificate, the Judge allowed the appeal, noting that:

The Entry Clearance Office ‘has shown a lack of knowledge about how this evidence is produced in either country, Albania or the UK’, and ‘failed either to carry out checks in Albania or to supply a document verification report, in order to question the reliability of’Albanian documents proving the parental relationship.

Furthermore, the Judge stressed that:

The burden of proof falls on the doubter. It is a burden that has clearly never been discharged by the respondent HO. On the contrary, the respondent decision maker has given no sign of abandoning an unreal view of how these matters are done’.

Thus, Sterling Law will now be applying for costs for the clients.

Please note, in accordance with Albanian law ‘when a person applies for a birth certificate, he or she is issued with a new one instead of a copy of the first birth certificate issued’. Thus, in theory, an Albanian can hold 10 such certificates (with identical information) if he or she has applied 10 times.

         Do you have a similar immigration-related problem? Do you believe the Home Office made a wrong decision? Contact our experienced lawyers for professional advice.



Crypto assets challenges: are tokens a security or utility?

Cryptoassets have attracted significant and growing attention from consumers, markets, governments, and regulators globally. Tokens, although not ‘rocket science’, is a quite complicated area even for businesses and individuals dealing with it.

In accordance with FCA Guidance currently there are three types of tokens:

  1. Exchange tokens(not issued or backed by any central authority and used as a means of exchange, usually outside the FCA regulation perimeter).
  2. Securitytokens(tokens with specific characteristics; classify as a Specified Investment like a share or a debt instrument; within the FCA regulation perimeter.
  3. Utility tokens: (support capital raising and/or the creation of decentralised networks; can be used or traded on the secondary market; usually outside the FCA regulation, although might meet the definition of e-money in certain circumstances, in which case – within the FCA regulation perimeter)

However, firms should note that 5th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive will be implemented into UK law by the end of 2019 and will extend the FCA regulation, as a result, all crypto exchange platforms will fall within an FCA Regulation.

Regardless of technology – if regulated crypto asset activities(e.g. Managing or advising on investments, including security tokens, dealing with warranties, etc.) are undertaken,  an appropriate FCA authorisation is required unless you are exempted. You will also need to ensure you have appropriate authorisation if your tokens constitute e-money.


E-money is electronically stored monetary value which is:

  • issued on receipt of funds for the purpose of making payment transactions;
  • accepted by a person other than the electronic money issuer ;
  • not excluded by regulation 3 of the Electronic Money Regulations 2011.

Exchange tokens like Bitcoin, Ether, and other equivalents are unlikely to represent e-money because, amongst other things, they are not usually centrally issued on the receipt of funds, nor do they represent a claim against an issuer.

Voting rights and security tokens

Tokens would classify as security tokens if they represent ownership or control (e.g. via voting rights), provide access to a dividend of company profits or the distribution of capital upon liquidation. However, this is not always the case as some tokens give voting rights on the direction without it being considered as control. For example, a token that provides the token holder with the right to vote on future ICOs the firm will invest in and no other rights would likely not be considered a share as the voting rights don’t confer control-like decisions on the future of the firm. It must be noted that whether a token that provide voting rightsrepresents a share in the capital of a body corporate or similar entity incorporated outside the UK will depend on the operation of the company and corporate law. In addition, negotiability on the capital markets can be an indicator of the transferable security nature of a token.

Decentralisationis also an important factor in determining whether a token is a security or utility. Decentralisation allows for trade directly with another party, using a blockchain to finalise the operation. The FCA approach is, the greater the degree of decentralisation the less likely it is that a token will confer enforceable rights and be a security.

Despite the fact that issuers of tokens don’t need to be authorised to issue their own securities, in the course of promoting their issuance, they may be advising on investments or undertaking other activities that may require FCA permission.

Sterling Law can provide tailored advice on the nature of your tokens and other crypto asset related matters. Our team can also obtain FCA Crypto team confirmation on the issue of whether specific tokens are security or not.



Employee, worker, self-employed, contractor, employer? Know your rights

Are you an employee, worker, self-employed or contractor? Not sure? It is important to understand the difference, as this may determine your rights.

You may think you know the answer to that question, but the answer may be different from what you imagine. Your position may be either better or worse than you think!

Why is that, and what am I talking about?

I am referring fundamentally to the difference in legal rights between those who are legally ‘employees’ and those who are ‘self-employed’. The former have certain rights such as the right to claim unfair dismissal, redundancy, maternity pay, holiday pay, statutory sick pay and others rights. The latter do not.

Just to make things more confusing, there is a category in the middle, classed as ‘workers’, who have some of these rights, but not others. Importantly, workers, do not have the right to claim unfair dismissal.

In a leading case in the Supreme Court on 11thJune 2018, it was decided that a plumber who had been working for Pimlico Plumbers Ltd apparently on a self-employed basis, paying with his own tax and NI, was still a worker for legal purposes. He was therefore entitled to holiday pay and sick pay This was mostly because of the degree of control exercised by the company over his work. He worked exclusively for Pimlico, and drove their van, and wore the company uniform whilst at work. It was important that he was not acting as an independent entrepreneur, touting for work for himself for his own account.

This case reflects other decisions in this area involving drivers for Uber, Deliveroo, and Addison Lee. In fact the Uber case was decided by the Court of Appeal in favour of the drivers in 2019 – they were classed as ‘workers’. A few other cases have been decided in favour of employers.

The crucial point of all of them, which should be borne in mind by businesses and individuals alike, is that the issue of ‘employment’ status is a factual decision in each case. It is a good idea to get professional advice about your position in good time, and have a reliable contract drawn up to reflect and solidify the true position.

However, even many lawyers who are not well-versed in employment law do not understand that even a contract cannot alter the legal position after the event, if the facts indicate that only a particular version of the legal position is correct on the facts.

We can help with either:

  • advising on how the law applies to your particular circumstances
  • drawing up a suitable agreement /contract
  • a dispute that has arisen which turns upon employment status

If you think your rights are being violated, or you would just to know more about what you can and cannot do, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.


Kuldeep S. Clair

Consultant Solicitor

Employment, Dispute Resolution and Litigation

+44 (0) 7484 61 4090

Interests of a child outweigh public interest of immigration control

Our client, a national of Kyrgyzstan, applied for leave to remain, however, her application was refused. Sterling Law successfully appealed this refusal outside the Immigration Rules on the Human Rights grounds. The main reason for refusal was our client’s poor immigration history. Our client, who had previously lived lawfully in the UK for several years (on a visitor visa, EEA residence card, etc.) found herself in a situation when she could not apply for the next visa under the European rules. She was heavily pregnant and vulnerable which resulted in her making a false asylum claim using a false identity card (which was refused and she became an overstayer).

However, our client established a strong private and family life in the UK. Our client’s mother is in the UK and has British nationality. She also has a UK born child who suffers from Autism who has been living in the UK for more than 10 years, speaks the English language only and requires special care.

Considering all the circumstances of the case, and applying relevant law (MA (Pakistan) & Others [2016] EWCA Civ 705; ZH (Tanzania) [2011] UKSC 4), the Judge found that:

Although very significant breaches of immigration laws are involved in this case, the interests of this child outweigh the public interest in the removal of his mother.

Thus, the Appeal was allowed and our client, not only obtained legal status in the UK but also got a chance to remain with her child and continue to provide him with necessary support and love.


Oksana Demyanchuk


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535



Is your case similar? Book a consultation with us and we will help.


Permanent residence – out of time appeal

Our client approached Sterling Law after her application for permanent residence as a family member of an EEA national who had retained the right of residence following the end of her marriage had been refused by the Home Office.

After the breakdown of her marriage, our client applied for permanent residence on the basis that she had retained the right of residence following the divorce. However, the client was unable to obtain documents from her ex-husband, most notably she was unable to obtain his passport or national identity card and she had insufficient evidence that he was exercising Treaty rights at the time divorce proceedings began. The Home Office took objection to this and therefore the application was refused.

The client’s legal representatives at the time advised that there were no merits to an appeal and so the client did not lodge an appeal within the prescribed 14 days from the date of refusal. However, after approaching Sterling Law and Oksana Demyanchuk, it was advised that an appeal did have merit. Accordingly, an out-of-time appeal was lodged by Oksana Demaynchuk and the Tribunal accepted the reasons put forward as to why the appeal was lodged out-of-time and concluded that, in the interest of justice, the appeal should be allowed to continue.

At the appeal hearing, it was submitted that the reasons for refusing the application were unlawful. It was submitted that the EEA Regulations cannot service to impose additional requirements to the Citizens Directive (Directive 2004/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council), and therefore, the Tribunal was invited to revert to the Directive in considering whether or not the client meets the requirements for a grant of for permanent residence as a family member of an EEA national who had retained the right of residence.

After considering the bundle of documents submitted by Sterling Law as evidence that the client does, in fact, meet the requirements, and the arguments put forward at the hearing, the Judge allowed the appeal.


Oksana Demyanchuk


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535



Successful human rights application


Oksana Demyanchuk and her team conducted yet another successful asylum claim before the First-tier Tribunal. Our client, a Ukrainian entrepreneur, despite receiving military call-up notes requiring him to serve in the military, had evaded the draft as a conscientious objector.

Fearing that he would be sent to the frontline to serve or imprisoned for draft evasion, our client left Ukraine for the UK to claim asylum.

A conscientious objection may give rise to an asylum claim under the principle of imputed political opinion, political opinion being one of five categories that may be used to claim refugee status, the other four being race, religion, nationality, and member of a particular social group.

Initially, the Home Office refused our client’s claim for asylum and an appeal was lodged to the First-tier Tribunal. While awaiting the hearing date, our client received a court decision sentencing him to imprisonment for draft evasion. Due to the conditions of detention and imprisonment in Ukraine, which fall below the International Standards, our client further feared for his life if he was returned to Ukraine.

Due to the thorough and robust preparation and persuasive representations and bundles submitted in support of the appeal by Oksana Demyanchuk, as well as the introduction of expert evidence, it was accepted by the Immigration Judge that all of the evidence demonstrated that our client had been tried in absentia and sentenced to imprisonment. Accordingly, relying on VB and Another (draft evaders and prison conditions) Ukraine CG [2017] UKUT 00079 (IAC), the Judge went on to find:

         ‘…if a draft-evader did face prosecution proceedings (…) it would be a matter for any Tribunal to consider, in the light of developing evidence, whether there were aggravating matters which might lead to imposition of an immediate custodial sentence…’

         ‘There is a real risk that the conditions of detention and imprisonment in Ukraine would subject a person returned to be detained or imprisoned to a breach of Article 3 of the ECHR’,

Accordingly, the Judge found that our client faces a real risk of treatment in breach of the Article 3 ECHR right(Anti-torture and inhumane treatment). Thus, the Appeal was allowed.

Asylum appeals of this nature can be very complex and the success of such and appeal can depend on the quality of representations. Therefore, we would strongly advise that any asylum seekers in the UK seek professional legal advice.


Oksana Demyanchuk


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535