Court costs (also called law-costs) are the costs of handling a case, which, depending on legal rules, may or may not include the costs of the various parties in a lawsuit in addition to the costs of the court itself. In the United States, "court costs" (such as filing fees, copying and postage) are differentiated from attorney's fees, which are the hourly rates paid to attorneys for their work in a case. Court costs can reach very high amounts, often far beyond the actual monetary worth of a case. Cases are known in which one party won the case, but lost more than the monetary worth in court costs. Court costs may be 'awarded' to one or both parties in a lawsuit, or they may be waived.
In the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, the losing side is usually ordered to pay the winning side's costs. This acts as a significant disincentive to bringing forward court cases. Usually, the winning party is not able to recover from the losing party the full amount of his or her own solicitor's (attorney's) costs, and has to pay the shortfall out of his or her own pocket. The loser pays principle does not apply to the United States legal system, although a separate system does operate there. In cases in the federal court system, Title 28, section 1920 of the United States Code, provides:
A judge or clerk of any court of the United States may tax as costs the following:
(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal; (2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case; (3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses; (4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case; (5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title; (6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under section 1828 of this title.