High Court Clarifies Costs Liability in Ashok Kapoor v Baltaj Johal Case

Citation: [2024] EWHC 551 (KB)
Judgment on


The case of Ashok Kapoor v Baltaj Johal encapsulates a series of complex legal proceedings surrounding a boundary dispute and subsequent claims of non-compliance with court orders and the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). The High Court’s decision, addressing an appeal post the original claimant’s demise and changes in party representation, stands as a noteworthy adjudication particularly in matters of costs and procedural compliance. This article provides a structured analysis of the legal principles applied in this case, aligning them intricately with the provided summary.

Key Facts

The case originated from a 2010 boundary dispute involving claimed destruction of a fence, alleged trespass, and failure to comply with court orders. Following the death of the initial claimant, Ms. Madhu Kapoor, her brother, Ashok Kapoor, represented her estate in continued litigation. The case was plagued with non-compliance issues on both sides, leading to a chaotic case history. The primary issue on appeal was whether costs could be awarded against the estate of the deceased claimant due to rulings made without mention of costs.

Rule on Costs When Orders Are Silent (CPR r 44.10)

The crux of the appeal centered around the applicability of CPR r 44.10, which stipulates that if a court order makes no mention of costs, no party is entitled to them. This principle was upheld in the case of Griffiths v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2003] EWCA Civ 313, which clarifies that costs already disposed by a prior order without mention cannot later be varied to impose a costs liability.

Deemed Order for Costs (CPR r 44.10(2)(c) and (3))

CPR r 44.10(2)(c) provides that a deemed costs order is included where the court makes an order or direction on an application without notice that does not mention costs. A party affected by such an order can apply to vary it under CPR r 44.10(3). However, this provision was not applicable as the orders in question were not made without notice nor sought by a party via an application without notice.

Powers to Vary Orders (CPR PD52B, Section 7)

CPR PD52B Section 7 delineates powers for the court to determine applications with or without a hearing and to set aside or vary orders if necessary. However, there were no such variation applications within the specified time frame as required by this practice direction.

Costs in Appeal Procedures (CPR PD52B 8.1)

CPR PD52B 8.1 outlines that costs will not normally be awarded to respondents of an appeal unless specific conditions apply, such as if the court orders attendance or considers it just to award costs.


The High Court set aside parts of HHJ Lethem’s order that awarded costs of the appeal to Baltaj Johal. It determined that the judge had no jurisdiction to make a costs order against the estate of Madhu Kapoor as previous orders had not included costs.

Additionally, the High Court varied part of the order so that the costs reserved on January 6, 2022, were to be paid by the estate and not Ashok Kapoor personally, as he was not a party at that time.


The High Court’s decision in Ashok Kapoor v Baltaj Johal reaffirms the imperatives of precise procedural adherence within litigation, embodying the delineation of costs under CPR r 44.10 and illuminating the constraints on judicial powers to vary prior orders. It illustrates the contingent nature of cost orders relative to party conduct, with direct implications for the assessment of liability, especially post the death of a claimant. The decision serves as a precedent for ensuring clarity on cost entitlements and the necessity of explicit judicial directions in court orders concerning costs within the evolving landscape of UK civil procedure.