General applications

GA12: Order another party to pay costs because of their improper conduct

Last updated: January 24, 2024

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What are costs

Costs has more than one meaning.

Costs under the Human Rights Code

“Costs” means a penalty for “improper conduct”. The Tribunal may order costs to:

  • deter and punish bad conduct in the complaint process
  • encourage parties to comply with Tribunal rules and orders

Costs in court cases

In court, “costs” has a special meaning. Costs are about the costs of going to court.

In court, the losing side usually pays “costs” to the winning side. The “costs” are usually a part of the winning side’s actual costs.

Costs of going to the Human Rights Tribunal

Unlike in court, parties at the Tribunal pay their own costs. The Tribunal does not order the losing side to pay “costs” to the winning side.

How to ask for costs

You can apply for costs at any time.

At the hearing, you can tell the Tribunal Member that you want to ask for costs for improper conduct. Ask the Tribunal Member if they want you to explain why in writing.

Legal test for costs

Section 37(4) of the Human Rights Code allows the Tribunal order costs.

You must show:

  • another party engaged in “improper conduct during the course of the complaint”, or
  • another party contravened a rule or order

Improper conduct is conduct that harms the process or the parties.

Conduct can be improper even if the party did not mean to harm the process or the parties.

Usually, the Tribunal will not order costs for minor problems.

Minor problem example: A party files a document late. Usually, this isn’t enough to order costs.

Examples of conduct that may be improper and result in a costs order:

  • Treating people in the process badly
    • Being rude or sarcastic during a hearing
    • Badmouthing other parties or Tribunal staff or members
    • Threatening other parties or Tribunal staff or members
    • Being disrespectful to other parties or Tribunal staff or members
  • Harming the hearing process
    • Destroying evidence
    • Lying to the Tribunal when giving evidence
  • Causing unnecessary cost or delay
    • Refusing to follow a Tribunal order
    • Saying you’ll attend the hearing then not showing up, with no excuse
    • Waiting until the hearing to say that the Tribunal doesn’t have power to deal with the complaint

Amount of costs

The Tribunal may consider things like:

  • What can the person afford to pay?
  • How did the conduct affect the parties and the process?
  • How much did the Tribunal order in similar cases?
  • In rare cases, how much did the party who was harmed spend on the process?


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