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

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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


A new case – 3 Jan 2020

On what kind of beliefs can an employee claim discrimination?

Most people are aware that it is unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender, race or nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability.

An employment tribunal within the last week re-affirmed a fundamental principle of the Equality Act 2010, namely that the concept of ‘belief’ is not confined to just the Abrahamic religions, or any other religions, as some would have us believe!

‘Belief’ includes any philosophical belief, provided it is held genuinely and seriously, and includes, as in this case decided on 3rd January 2020, veganism. The claimant here was a vegan who believed that this was the reason that he had been victimised in the course of his employment. The employee had ethical objections to the way in which his employer behaved.

Of course, vegetarianism is included as well, as is, for instance, atheism and agnosticism and paganism. No belief has any privilege over any other – which I would say is exactly what you would expect in the law in a modern civilised secular society.

Kuldeep Clair

Senior Employment Solicitor

If you need expert advice on an employment issue, contact our consultant employment solicitor:

Kuldeep Clair – 07484 614090 or


Just on Friday, a prominent new case was reported in the news involving equal pay.

It is prominent because it involved a claim by a well-known BBC journalist, Samira Ahmed, against her employer, on the basis that she had been underpaid for several years, for presenting one programme, amongst others. Her equal pay ‘comparator’ or rival BBC male journalist, was Jeremy Vine. Salary figures at the BBC had been made public as a matter of policy, and these showed that Mr Vine had been paid at a rate considerably more per programme, even though they both have been similarly experienced in their fields – over 25 years or so.

Of course, the BBC attempted to offer an alternative explanation for this disparity to the employment tribunal, but it was not accepted by the tribunal on the facts before it. The programmes in question were very similar and required similar skills. If the opposite had been accepted, the case would not have succeeded. Samira Ahmed’s success means that she will receive back pay for perhaps six years amounting to a six-figure sum. Six years is the maximum period for which an employee can claim back pay in an equal pay claim.

Our senior specialist employment solicitor, Kuldeep Clair comments, “I have found that claims for equal pay commonly turn on the ability of an employer to provide an explanation for the difference in pay. This can be difficult, but sometimes an explanation may not even be necessary, because the work simply is not easily ‘comparable’ at all. So there can be potential problems in both bringing and defending claims, unless you have expert professional representation.

Kuldeep dealt with an equal pay claim last year for a claimant which was settled for a substantial five figure sum. He was opposed by a prominent City firm, defending a national hospitality company. “The defence initially put forward by the employer was essentially the same”, says Kuldeep, “namely,  that my client’s work was of a different nature and could not be compared to the dozen male managers who occupied comparable positions to her. But they had a change-of-mind two weeks before the tribunal hearing date, when they realised the strengths of my client’s claim.

Kuldeep goes on to note that this year it is exactly 50 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act 1970, which was a turning point in anti-discrimination legislation. “We have now moved forwards a long way since the days when women were expected to either stay at home and do the dishes, or at most possibly expect to take menial work at whatever pittance of a rate was offered to them without any argument.

For advice on any employment issue, Kuldeep Clair can be contacted on 07484 614090 or

Spouse Visa – Unmarried partner refusal withdrawn by Home Office prior to appeal

Our client, a national of the United States of America, approached Oksana Demyanchuk and Michael Carter to apply for leave to enter the UK as the unmarried partner of a British citizen.

The couple had met many years back in the USA and started a romantic relationship. By the time the Applicant applied for leave to enter the UK, the relationship had been ongoing for well over 2 years, however, the couple had only lived together for a period short period less than that required by the Home Office.

The Immigration Rules currently state the following with regard to unmarried partners:

295A. The requirements to be met by a person seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom with a view to settlement as the unmarried or same-sex partner of a person present and settled in the United Kingdom or being admitted on the same occasion for settlement is that:

  • (a)(i) the applicant is the unmarried or same-sex partner of a person present and settled in the United Kingdom or who is on the same occasion being admitted for settlement and the parties have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership which has subsisted for two years or more,
  • […]


Furthermore, Home Office guidance on the topic of unmarried partners states the following:

‘Living together’, should be applied fairly tightly, with a couple providing evidence that they have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership which has subsisted for two years or more.


Despite this, Applicant and Sponsor, out of principle, did not want to marry for the sake of obtaining a visa and decided to make an application. It was submitted to the Home Office by Oksana Demyanchuk that their relationship was sufficiently serious as to be akin to marriage and that discretion should have been applied to waive the requirement of 2 years’ cohabitation prescribed for in the Immigration Rules.

The couple submitted evidence to the Home Office that their relationship was sufficiently serious so as to be equivalent as marriage in all but name. This evidence included evidence of the couple’s trips to share holidays with each other and references from family members and friends confirming the genuineness and seriousness of the relationship.

The initial application was refused on the basis that the couple did not satisfy the co-habitation requirement, although it was accepted that the relationship was genuine and subsisting and had been for many years.

The couple duly appealed the decision to the First-tier Tribunal (IAC), continuing to argue that the inflexible requirement of 2 years’ co-habitation is inconsistent with Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights.

The couple was able to provide an enormous volume of documentary evidence of their relationship and submitted a bundle consisting of sum 974 pages in support of their contention that the decision to refuse our client leave to remain was unlawful.

On the day of the hearing, the Home Office representative informed that, in light of the arguments advanced and supporting evidence provided by Oksana Demyanchuk, they accept the submission and are withdrawing the decision to refuse the application with a view to granting leave. The result is that our client will now be granted leave to remain to continue to enjoy her family life with her partner.

Sterling Law are please the justice prevailed in the end and that our clients can now continue their life together without compromising on their principles.

You can contact Oksana and Michael:

Oksana DemyanchukEmail:

Tel. 020 7822 8535






Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Book a consultation here.

Read more about our successful cases here.


PK: Court of Appeal remits Ukrainian draft evader asylum claim back to the Upper Tribunal

Our client, PK, entered the UK unlawfully in 2013 and claimed asylum in 2014 upon facing deportation.

However, numerous asylum claims have been rejected, the call-up notices received were considered fraudulent documents, and PK faced removal.

PK appealed to the First-tier Tribunal which considered two main issues:

Could the military service in Ukraine involve acts contrary to the basic rules of human conduct defined by international law?

If the appellant was to receive a prison sentence, would the conditions there breach Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights?

The Tribunal considered such acts to be unlikely, but not impossible, and found that the most likely punishment for draft evasion in Ukraine would be fine. The appeal was therefore dismissed, as the harm feared would not be sufficiently serious to breach Article 3 of the ECHR.

The main question we raised in the Court of Appeal was whether punishment for draft evasion must reach minimum severity in order for a draft evader to be considered a refugee. We also argued there is an inconsistency between the Upper Tribunal and the Secretary of State definition of “minimum severity”.

The appeal was allowed and the case was remitted to the Upper Tribunal.

Sterling Law instructed Anthony Metzer QC and Julian Norman to represent the client.

You can read the full article here.

Ruslan Kosarenko
Senior Partner



 Nozima Rakhimjonova




Nadiya Pylypchuk

Trainee Solicitor

Bringing a child to the UK under sole responsibility route

Our client is a child living in Uzbekistan. She wishes to come to the UK to live with her mother, who is already settled in the UK. However, our client’s father still lives in the country of her origin. Most of the time, cases where only one parent is settled in the UK, it is really challenging to prove that the parent in question has sole responsibility for their child’s upbringing, especially when the other parent is still alive. Such cases, therefore, are associated with high refusal rates and costly and time-consuming appeal processes.

The greatest challenge in such cases is providing sufficient evidence that a parent indeed has sole responsibility for the child.

Oksana Demyanchuk and Michael Carter have advised on the required evidence to our client, prepared and submitted the application on the applicant’s behalf following which Indefinite Leave to Enter was granted in the first instance, as the Entry Clearance Officer was satisfied that the mother has sole responsibility for her child’s upbringing in light of all the evidence provided.

Oksana and Michael provided evidence to show that the child is not leading an independent life, and they provided evidence that the mother has been continuously providing financial and emotional support to the child. Furthermore, they showed that the father has no bearing in regard to the child’s upbringing, and the child’s grandparents do not have control over the child’s daily decisions.

Since the Home Office did not refuse our client’s application, she has effectively saved her time and money by not appealing the Home Office’s decision in case they refused her application.

Our client can now happily join her mother and able to live in the UK.

If you have a sole responsibility case, do not hesitate to contact Sterling Law.

Sterling Law is recognised by the Legal 500, and The Times.

Oksana Demyanchuk


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Book a consultation here.

Read more about our successful cases here.


A family finally gained their leave to remain under private and family life grounds

It is distressing to any asylum seeker to receive a letter from the court declaring that you have exhausted your appeal rights. After gathering numerous documents, attending countless court hearings and paying costly legal fees, you are left with little possibility of getting your legal status in the UK. When a person exhausts his appeal rights, it usually means that the Home Office will view you as having no right to stay in the UK and will subsequently force you to leave the country.

Our clients entered the UK in 2001. In 2003, the family’s asylum claim was refused by the Home Office and they sent a letter stating that they do not have any basis to remain in the UK anymore. However, the Home Office failed to enforce the removal of the family for 17 years!

The Facts and Home Office Decision

Our clients applied for an asylum claim in 2003 and an EEA residence card in 2016. All of their application was refused with no right of appeal. In one last attempt to gain legal status in the UK, the family applied for leave to remain under the basis of private and family life under Article 8 ECHR in 2019. However, the Home Office refused their application on the grounds that they failed to engage Article 8 as they “would not face very significant obstacles to their integration into their home country”.

The Home Office submitted that:

  1. The father is a professional builder and used to work in a construction firm in their home country. The Home Office finds that it will not be difficult for him to find a job in back there given his previous experience.
  2. The mother is an economist in her country of origin. Home Office stated that she would be able to re-integrate in the society taking regard that she previously worked there as a bookkeeper and a shop manager.
  3. The son is suffering from chronic depression since 2014. Home Office insisted that medical assistance would be available to him anyways in the home country.

Sterling Law and the Court’s Decision

Our lawyers in Sterling Law argued that the family would be met with very significant obstacles to their integration into their home country under Article 8 ECHR.

Sterling Law submitted that:

  1. The father will not find any work as he is already 58 years old. Despite his skills, employers in his home country usually hire builders who are under forty.
  2. It will be difficult for the mother to find employment. Notwithstanding her economic background, she has not been able to keep up to date with the various social and economic changes that have taken place back home since her arrival in the UK in 2001.
  3. There is a risk that the son’s mental health can suffer more as the attitude to mental health in his home country and depression is different from that in the UK. His home country does not view depression as an illness, unlike in the UK, where support from doctors and medical professionals are available.
  4. Our clients have no family ties back home. The 17-year period the family spent in the UK forged new relationships in the UK and broken down all connections in their country of origin.

The First-Tier Tribunal rejected all of the Home Office’s submission. The court accepted that our clients would face significant difficulties, both social and economic, attempting to reintegrate into society.

We are very happy for our clients. Their immigration status in the UK has been precarious for 17 years, but Sterling Law made it possible for them to settle legally in the UK.

If you are trying to seek asylum or bring a human rights claim, Sterling Law is a Legal 500 firm, acknowledged by its expertise in dealing with complex Immigration and Human rights cases.


Oksana Demyanchuk


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Book a consultation here.

Read more about our successful cases here.

Domestic worker successfully enforced her employment rights against her manipulative employer even after her work visa expired

The general rule is that it’s illegal to work for an employer after the employees working visa has expired. The employee will no longer be able to bring a breach of employment contract claim against his employer due to the defence of ‘illegality’ of contract.

The case of Okedina v Chikale [2019] EWCA Civ 1393 held that there are some circumstances in which an employment contract can still be enforceable despite breaching an immigration rule.

The Facts

The claimant, Ms Chikale, and the respondent, Mrs Okedina, are both Malawian nationals. The claimant was granted a 6-month visa to work as a nanny for the respondent. Little did the claimant know, her visa was granted based on false information given by the respondent. The respondent goes further by letting the claimant stay and work in the UK even after her visa expired. Few months after, the claimant is earning £200 per month. The respondent dismissed the claimant after she requested more money.


The respondent’s defence of illegality was denied by the court. Great emphasis was placed on the fact that the claimant was innocent the whole time, and she was not aware that she has been working illegally.

In many cases, the balance of power in an employment relationship often tip in favour of the employer rather than the employee hence why vicious employers exploit workers by depriving them of their rights often becoming victims of trafficking.

If you think that your employer is depriving you of your employment rights, immediately contact our lawyers in Sterling Law, a Legal 500 firm based in London.

Contact us via:

+44 7 305 966 531

Book a consultation here.

Read about our successful cases here.

Home Office reconsider their refusal of our client’s ILR application

A freedom of information request shows in 2018 that the Upper Tribunal rejected 900 out of 1,235 referrals for further appeal made by the Home Office. It means 75% of the total asylum seekers and migrants who wants to stay in the UK are put to an immeasurable amount of stress and trauma from the lengthy and expensive court processes.

Our client, a Russian national, entered the UK as a student in 2006. She has been living in the UK for 13 years. Since then, she has been studying, received her PhD and made a positive contribution to the community by paying her tax contributions and by volunteering in various charity work.

In 2019, she applied herself for ILR (indefinite leave to remain) based on her 10-years long residence. However, Home Office refused her application on the grounds that for a brief period during her stay in the UK, she had broken her 10 years’ continuous lawful residence.

She then approached Sterling Law, and in particular Oksana Demyanchuk, to appeal the Home Office’s decision in the First-Tier Tribunal (IAC).

Two days prior to the hearing, the Home Office wrote the Tribunal and our client stating that they are withdrawing their decision against our client’s case with a view to granting our client.

They further stated in the letter that:

“…Upon reviewing the applicant’s bundle, the SOS’s decision for the appellant is no longer sustainable and the appellant’s case will need to be reconsidered with a view to grant

It is very rare for the Home Office to withdraw their decisions, however, due the efforts made by Oksana Demyanchuk and Michael Carter in preparing our client’s bundles, Home Office’s decided that the original decision was unsustainable and saw no other option than to withdraw it.

If you have an immigration case that you want to discuss, Sterling Law is a Legal 500 firm which specialises in Immigration and Human Rights cases. We are proud to have been part of countless success stories from our clients in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at

Oksana Demyanchuk


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Michael Carter


Tel. 020 7822 8535


Or book a consultation here.

Read more about our successful cases here.


So, mathematical equations are not protected by copyright, because they were created for public use. It would be unfair towards everyone and it will create a monopoly! Moreover, it will restrict the free-flow of information and can be used by only the owner. Every person should have an opportunity to use mathematical equations for personal or business purposes. The law gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, sound recordings, broadcasts, films and typographical arrangement of published editions, rights to control the ways in which their material may be used. The key point is that you can be inspired by the form of expression, but not an idea of the expression. Unfortunately, it is often becoming difficult to see the difference between the idea and expression. When the expressions are inseparable from the ideas, those expressions are not protected.

Thus, if you would like to create a math book, you can use mathematical equations that are all available for you. However, be careful with personal diagrams and illustrations because they are protected under copyright law. By adding an original idea, it can be protected under copyright law.

In Eastern Book Company & Ors v. D.B. Modak & Anr, the court set up the two condition:

  1. Sweat of Brow; and
  2. Modicum of Creativity.

Meeting these criteria, the work will be considered to be ‘original‘ and will be protectable under the copyright.

Please do not hesitate to contact us.

By Katsiaryna Pazniak

You can book an appointment here.


Marriage of convenience allegations withdrawn by the Home Office

We received the above letter today from the Home Office Presenting Officers Unit concerning our client’s appeal. The central issue was an allegation by the Home Office that our client was in a marriage of convenience. Our client’s visa was revoked and she was issued with removal directions, requiring to leave the United Kingdom immediately.
In the letter, the Home Office has confirmed that their own decision is not sustainable and they have no chance to succeed. This has happened because of the robust representation of Sterling Law.
Yet again this again confirms that even the Home Office makes mistakes and you should always fight for your rights. In our client’s matter, we will now be seeking a wasted costs order against the Home Office because we believe that their actions were both unlawful and unreasonable. If the wasted costs application is successful, our client will recover the legal costs they have had to incur as a result of the atrocious decision by the Home Office.
Sterling Law is a highly experienced firm that deals with various areas of law and was recently included in the Legal 500. Sterling Law aims at bringing every case to a successful end, regardless of the complexity and give hope to those who already lost it.
Our lawyers deal with challenging cases daily, our expertise and knowledge mean our clients are never alone in their matter. We defended our clients’ rights and hold our clients’ hand every step of the way.
We often make the impossible possible.


Jekaterina Trubina

Contact us on

+44 020 7822 8535

+44 7 305 966 531

Or book an appointment here.