In the case of Strydom and Another v Coomans and Others, the North West Division of the High Court ruled against attorneys billing clients for frivolous and thoughtless litigation. The court emphasised that such a practice would constitute an injustice committed by an attorney against their own client for the attorney's personal financial gain and a waste of the judiciary's invaluable time and its limited resources.


On 16 November 2023, the court handed down a written judgment and on 14 December 2023, the applicant's attorney requested reasons as to why the court refused to grant leave to appeal in the aforesaid judgment.

The critical question before the court was whether an attorney could invoice their client for the costs associated with the drafting and filing of a court's reasoning for its judgment and any further legal steps thereafter if such reasons were already being elaborated upon by the court.

The judge stressed the principle as set out in S v Kruger, that the judiciary has a finite amount of resources, and that its time must be spent in an effective manner and on matters that are truly worthy of its attention.

In light of this, the court reemphasised the established principle, as explained in Biowatch Trust v Registrar, Generic Resources and Others, that the courts have a wide discretion in granting or refusing a costs order and that such a discretion must be exercised in a manner that promotes the advancement of justice.


Therefore, the court concluded billing clients for what can only be termed as frivolous litigation is not permissible. To prevent financial injustice to the client for mindless litigation, the court penalised the attorney by disallowing them from charging the client for the request for reasons and any subsequent steps.

The court also remarked that these proceedings constituted injustice by virtue of the fact that the judiciary's time is scarce and that this refusal to allow the attorney to recover the costs for frivolous litigation, should encourage other practitioners to refrain from mindless litigation as an additional billing technique.

Practitioners are also at risk of a costs de bonis propriis order (personal costs order) being made by a court against the legal practitioner.

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