Court allows corrections of taxed bill although it had been paid

The difference in the taxed bill was substantial and it would not have been just for the Department of Justice to benefit from judicial costs it was not owed

The First Hall of the Civil Court presided by Ms Justice Jacqueline Padovani Grima ordered that a taxed bill be corrected although the time had lapsed within which corrections can be made, due to the substantial mistake made by the Court Registrar. This was decided in a judgement Future Focus Limited -v- Registratur tal-Qorti, Direttur Generali Dipartiment tal-Kuntratti, and Kullegg Malti ta’ l-Arti, Xjenza u Teknologija, delivered on 26 October 2015.

In its application the plaintiff company explained that on 26 March, 2013 the court had delivered its judgement in the case Future Focus Limited -v- the director general of the Contracts Department and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology. The Court Registrar then issued a tax bill listing the court costs and legal fees. In it €4,099.98 pertained to the Registrar and €4,961.21 were the lawyer’s fees, while €1,653.74 were the legal procurator’s fees.

In all the total costs and fees amounted to €26,834.30.

The plaintiff company explained further that erroneously, the taxed bill was calculated on €434,682, while it should have been calculated on €296,388. This mistake was accepted by the lawyers of the parties in the case. The company asked the court to correct this taxed bill and base itself on the value of the case, being €296,834.30. 

The Director General of the Contracts Department filed a statement of defence explaining that this action could not have taken place because the company had already paid these judicial costs and fees and therefore, a clear indication that they were accepted. Furthermore, the action could not take place for another reason, which was that according to Article 64(1) of the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure, a month had passed from when it was issued. Furthermore, the DG did not think it was an error, since the sum of €432,682 was mentioned before judgement had been delivered.

The Director of the Courts submitted that the taxed bill was correctly calculated. The taxed bill is calculated from what is being contested and debated in court. Furthermore the Director held that the company was alleging damages to the higher amount and therefore, the taxed bill should be calculated on that amount.

The court in its judgement said it had analysed the evidence brought before it and also the submissions made by the parties. It observed that the difference was substantial and amounted to over €140,000. This meant that the plaintiff company had paid on the basis of an erroneous tax bill. The time period of one month mentioned in Article 64 of the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure had lapsed by just a few days and although the payment had been effected, the Court felt that it would not have been just for the Department of Justice to benefit from judicial costs it was not owed and this at the citizen’s expense.

For this reason the court ordered that a new tax bill be issued on the basis of €296,338.

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