Lao Holdings NV v Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and another matter  SGHC(I) 6 - 13 April 2022
Singapore International Commercial Court - Originating Summonses Nos 5 and 6 of 2020
Quentin Loh JAD, Vivian Ramsey IJ and Douglas Jones IJ
15 October 2021
13 April 2022
Quentin Loh JAD, Vivian Ramsey IJ and Douglas Jones IJ:
1 This is our judgment on the issue of costs in SIC/OS 5/2020 and SIC/OS 6/2020 ("OS 5" and "OS 6" respectively, and "the Applications" collectively), following our dismissal of the Applications to set aside an International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes ("ICSID") arbitration award and a Permanent Court of Arbitration ("PCA") award respectively in Lao Holdings NV v Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and another matter  5 SLR 228 ("the Judgment"), and in HC/SUM 5593/2019 and HC/SUM 5579/2020 ("the Sealing Applications" collectively).
Assessment of costs
112 We must pause at this point to state that parties do themselves no favours when submitting on costs without assisting the court with the relevant details. Giving ballpark figures is wrong in principle. Whilst parties may wish to do so in those international arbitration challenges which seldom exceed one day, they may take the risk of rough justice.
113 However, where trials have taken place, a fortiori in more complex trials and with tranches, and even for originating summonses that are heard over a few days, we expect counsel to put in more details into their submissions on the level of costs to be awarded. They should be able to break down costs in different broad stages - costs leading up to the filing of Affidavits of Evidence- in-Chief, or at least costs up to trial, costs during the trial and costs after trial (usually submissions). Parties should be able to provide the number of lawyers claimed, their post-qualification experience, their hours and their respective charge-out rates. Where applicable or beneficial, it should also be broken down into stages. Similarly for experts - their time and hourly charge should be shown, the time should be broken up into stages, like preparation of their reports, the time for the joint experts’ conclave and joint expert report and time taken up at the trial. All of them disbursements should be similarly detailed and where possible either agreed between the parties or agreed as to quantum but not as to the principle as to whether they can be claimed or not, ie, agreement on “figures as figures”. Any information or detail that counsel feel will be relevant and helpful should also be provided. All this is good practice to enable any court or tribunal to come to a proper assessment of costs to be awarded.
114 For the foregoing reasons, we fixed the costs of this case as follows:
(a) For the Applications, the plaintiffs are, on a joint and several basis, to pay GOL costs fixed at S$222,000 (all-in).
(b) For the Sealing Applications, GOL is to pay to the plaintiffs’ costs fixed at S$8,000 (all-in).
(c) Setting off these sums, the plaintiffs are, on a joint and several basis, to pay GOL S$214,000 as costs of the Applications and Sealing