Novak Djokovic just lost his appeal against his visa being cancelled in the Australian Federal Court and was ordered to pay all costs.

There was 1 court session and a judgement later same day.

What would the approximate costs be to cover the government side, who had a QC representing them, and the hearing fees?

  • Do bear in the mind that much of the costs of a court case is in legal professionals having to take time and resources to prepare for the case. That the appeal was heard and a ruling given in the same day does not reflect how many hours of hunting for legal precedence was done in advance by an unknown number of highly trained people. That being said, I know courts in the UK have a relatively simple formula for calculating legal costs, I would imagine Australian courts have something similar. Jan 16, 2022 at 9:43
  • Probably similar to the costs that the government must pay for the first case that they lost on Monday. That amount will probably be made public after all the bills have been collected and paid. That could take some time. Jan 16, 2022 at 9:46
  • @geoff what is that formula? AFAICT the Aussie legal system is modelled after the British one, so it would be a handy to know.
    – Bohemian
    Jan 16, 2022 at 10:01
  • While used the term "fairly simple," I think, as a Brit, I indulged in the stereotype of British understatement. The rules for UK courts (which includes some discretion on the judge's part) can be found here: justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/… . I can't find a comparative document for Australian courts, but here's something that might help: fedcourt.gov.au/forms-and-fees/legal-costs Jan 16, 2022 at 10:04
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    @Bohemian the costs do not necessarily depend on the number of judges. The litigants do not pay for the judges' time. They pay for their lawyers' time and possibly for their opponents' lawyers' time. They also pay filing fees and the like to the court, but these are pretty negligible if you have the budget of a top tennis star or an industrialized country, typically a few hundred dollars at most.
    – phoog
    Jan 17, 2022 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


Impossible to say

The practice note on Federal Court legal costs is here.

In Australia, the general rule is that costs follow the event (loser pays) and usually on a “party and party” basis rather than an “indemnity” basis.

An indemnity basis means that the loser pays the full costs that the winner had to pay to their lawyers, experts, etc. A party and party basis means the loser pays the scheduled rates which are typically one third to one half of the actual rates. The current rates are here. As an example, the senior council rate for prep work is up to $740 per hour; the actual fees charged by a QC will probably be in the order of $2,500 per hour.

The court will typically make a costs order (saying who pays and on what basis) at the time of the judgement and then the parties will agree the actual costs. If there is a dispute on this, they can ask the court to resolve it (potentially incurring more costs).

The actual fees for using the court are nominal - less than $1,000 per day and are insignificant in the scheme of things.

To hazard a guess, Mr D is likely to be up for $100-200k for his own legal team, $30-50k for the government’s team (with the government likely to have spent considerably more) and about $5k for the court itself.


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