The Claim for Litigation cost is quite a recurring fact in most court processes. I do not intend to bring the argument here. In certain circumstances, courts have granted these sort of claims. In others, the court would refuse them. The court of Appeal in the case of  GUINNESS (NIG) PLC v.NWOKE (2000) LPELR-6845(CA) refused the claim for solicitor’s fees. As a matter of fact, the court found that placing the burden of litigation on another party would go against public policy. The Court held as follows:

I agree with the observation of the learned trial Judge who held, inter alia, that the cross-appellant’s claim of his Solicitor’s fees of N500,000.00 is in the nature of ‘special damages’. The rule that special damages must be strictly proved applies to cases of tort. The rule requires anyone asking for special damages to prove strictly that he did suffer such special damages as he claimed. This, however, does not mean that the law requires a minimum measure of evidence or that the law lays down a special category of evidence required to establish entitlement to special damages. What is required of proof of special damages is that the person claiming should establish his entitlement to that type of special damages by credible evidence that would convince the Judge that he is entitled to an award under that head. In other words, the evidence must be of such a quality that a reasonable Tribunal would accept. See Oshinjinrin & Ors. v. Alhaji Elias & Ors. (1970) 1 All NWLR 153 at 161; Odunlaja v. Haddad (supra) 839; Osuji v. Isiocha (supra) 638 and Kosile v. Folarin (supra) 12 and 13.

The antecedent of this head of claim is that it arose as fees payable to the cross-appellant’s Solicitor. In other words, the fees in point are sequel to the damages suffered by the cross-appellant for which the said Solicitor was briefed. It is not in doubt that the head of claim was pleaded with some particularity and was strictly proved. The crucial question is; Did this head of claim arise as a result of damage suffered by the cross-appellant in the course of any transaction between him and the cross-appellant? This is the question that ought to preoccupy the mind of any reasonable Tribunal dealing with the circumstances of the instant head of claim. A reasonable Tribunal, such as this Court, will definitely opine that the quality of evidence adduced by the cross-appellant on this score fell below the standard of acceptability because the circumstances making up the so-called ‘special damages’ occurred after the cause of action in this case had arisen. The seemingly financial inconvenience of the Solicitor’s fees of staggering N500,000.00 to the cross-appellant did not form part of the basis of the tort of detinue on which the cross-appellant pivoted his cause of action. It is also unethical and an affront to public policy to pass on the burden of Solicitor’s fees to the other party, in this case the cross-respondent.

In addition, the character of the act forming the said Solicitor’s fees of N500,000.00 made as a head of claim by the cross-appellant is obviously not cumulative to the tort of detinue committed by the cross-respondent. It is outside it. I am of the strong view that this type of claim is outlandish to the operation of the principle of special damages and it should not be allowed. It is absolutely improper to allow the cross-appellant to pass his financial responsibility couched as ‘special damages’ to the cross-respondent. I accordingly resolve issue No.3 in favor of the cross-respondent.

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