Court Costs Law and Legal Definition

Court costs include filing fees, charges for serving summons and subpoenas, court reporter charges for depositions, court transcripts and copying papers and exhibits. Court costs are often awarded to the successful party in a lawsuit. Attorneys' fees can be included as court costs only if there is a statute providing for attorneys' fee awards in a particular type of case, or if the case involved a contract which had an attorneys' fee clause. Some statutes provide that costs may be waived upon the petition of an indigent person in certain cases where otherwise a person would be deprived of their due process rights of access to the judicial system.

Although laws vary by jurisdiction, a judge usually has discretion to order the a party to pay the opposing party their court costs when the party so ordered puts forth an action, claim, defense or appeal that is frivolous, groundless in fact or in law, or vexatious, or put forth for any improper purpose, including, to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation.