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Taylor v Roper - costs judgment

[2019] NZHC 16

a claim of historic sexual abuse




First Defendant

Second Defendant


[re Costs]


[1] In my judgment dated 5 September 2018, I dismissed Ms Taylor’s civil claim against Mr Roper and against the Attorney-General on behalf of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

[2] Ms Taylor sought damages (including exemplary damages) against both Mr Roper and the RNZAF for the mental harm she alleged was caused by Mr Roper’s actions between 1985 and 1987. Sixteen witnesses, including two experts, gave evidence at trial over one and a half weeks. The briefs of evidence of other witnesses were taken as read.

[3] I found it likely that Mr Roper had acted as Ms Taylor alleged, and that these acts were a material and substantial cause of Ms Taylor’s mental injury, namely, her post-traumatic stress disorder. However, Ms Taylor’s claim did not succeed because it had not been brought within the time limits prescribed by the Limitation Act 1950, and there was insufficient evidence that she was suffering from a disability that would have prevented her from bringing her claim within time.

[4] Both the RNZAF and Mr Roper sought an award of costs. The RNZAF subsequently withdrew its application. Mr Roper claims costs of $55,638.50 plus disbursements of $220. Costs have been calculated according to the scale set out in the High Court Rules 2016. The total sum claimed is substantially less than the actual costs and disbursements incurred by Mr Roper which total $100,213.21. Mr Roper was in receipt of legal aid for part of the proceeding. The sum of $75,888.35 has been paid out under that grant for both costs and disbursements.

[5] Ms Taylor opposes costs and submits that no order should be made in favour of Mr Roper. Although she was unsuccessful in establishing her claim, she says that Mr Roper failed on the issue of whether the alleged acts of assault and false imprisonment occurred, and that this issue significantly increased Ms Taylor’s costs at trial.


[22] Overall, I consider a reduction of 50 per cent on the basis that Mr Roper lost on an issue which caused Ms Taylor to incur significant costs maintains the integrity of the costs regime and is consistent with the principles in r 14.2 which underpin it. The practical effect of that reduction is that Mr Roper will be left with a significant cost burden, despite successfully defending the claim at trial. But that is the ordinary consequence of an orthodox application of the cost rules in this case. Accordingly, I award Mr Roper 50 per cent of costs calculated on a schedule 2B basis (being $27,819.25) plus disbursements of $220.

Full judgment: 2019NZHC16TaylorvRoper.pdf

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