Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 17.1. Courts of Record
Subtitle .
Chapter 6. Costs Generally

Chapter 6. Costs Generally.

§ 17.1-600. Laws of costs not penal; discretion of courts of equity.

The laws of costs shall not be interpreted as penal laws; nor shall anything in this chapter take away or abridge the discretion of a court of equity over the subject of costs, except as provided in § 17.1-604.

Code 1950, § 14-174; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-177; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-601. General rule as to recovery of costs on final judgment.

Except when it is otherwise provided, the party for whom final judgment is given in an action or motion shall recover his costs against the opposite party. When the action is against two or more and there is a judgment for, or discontinuance as to, some, but not all of the defendants, unless the court enter of record that there was reasonable cause for making defendants those for whom there is such judgment, or as to whom there is such discontinuance and shall order otherwise, they shall recover their costs.

Code 1950, § 14-175; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-178; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-602. When successful plaintiff not to recover costs.

In any personal action not on contract, if a verdict is returned for the plaintiff, on an issue or otherwise, for less damages than ten dollars, he shall not recover in respect to such verdict any costs, unless the court enter of record that the object of the action was to try a right, besides the mere right to recover damages for the trespass or grievance in respect to which the action was brought, or that the trespass or grievance was willful or malicious.

Code 1950, § 14-176; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-179; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-603. Costs when suit is in name of one person for another.

When a suit is in the name of one person for the benefit of any other, if judgment is entered for the defendant's costs, it shall be against such other.

Code 1950, § 14-177; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-180; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-604. Costs in appellate courts.

In every case in the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals, costs shall be recovered in such court by the party substantially prevailing.

Code 1950, § 14-178; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-181; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 156; 1988, c. 525; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-605. Same; printing or otherwise reproducing brief and appendix.

Any party in whose favor costs are allowed in the Supreme Court shall have taxed as part of the costs the actual cost incurred by him in printing or otherwise any brief filed with the Court, not to exceed $500 for all briefs filed and the actual cost incurred by him in printing or otherwise reproducing the appendix containing parts of the record filed with the Court, except that the Court for good cause may direct that such party shall recover less than the entire cost incurred by him in printing or otherwise reproducing (i) briefs filed by him (even though less than $500) or (ii) the appendix.

Code 1950, § 14-179; 1958, c. 601; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-182; 1970, c. 250; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 156; 1972, c. 856; 1998, c. 872; 2010, c. 343.

§ 17.1-606. Persons allowed services without fees or costs.

A. Any person who is (i) a plaintiff in a civil action in a court of the Commonwealth and a resident of the Commonwealth or (ii) a defendant in a civil action in a court of the Commonwealth, and who is on account of his poverty unable to pay fees or costs, may be allowed by a court to sue or defend a suit therein, without paying fees or costs; whereupon he shall have, from any counsel whom the court may assign him, and from all officers, all needful services and process, without any fees, except what may be included in the costs recovered from the opposite party.

B. In determining a person's inability to pay fees or costs on account of his poverty, the court shall consider whether such person is a current recipient of a state or federally funded public assistance program for the indigent or is represented by a legal aid society, subject to § 54.1-3916, including an attorney appearing as counsel, pro bono, or assigned or referred by a legal aid society. If so, such person shall be presumed unable to pay such fees or costs. Except in the case of a no-fault divorce proceeding under subdivision A (9) of § 20-91, such presumption shall be rebuttable where the court finds that a more thorough examination of the person's financial resources is necessary.

C. If a person claims indigency but is not presumptively unable to pay under subsection B, or a court, where applicable, finds that a more thorough examination of the financial resources of the petitioner is needed, the court shall consider:

1. The net income of such person, which shall include his total salary and wages, less deductions required by law and tax withholdings;

2. Such person's liquid assets, including all cash on hand as well as assets in checking, savings, and similar accounts; and

3. Any exceptional expenses of such person and his dependents, including costs for medical care, family support obligations, and child care payments.

The available funds of the person shall be calculated as the sum of his total income and liquid assets less exceptional expenses as provided in subdivision 3. If the available funds are equal to or less than 125 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines prescribed for the size of the household of such person by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, he shall be presumed unable to pay. The Supreme Court of Virginia shall be responsible for distributing to all courts the annual updates of the federal poverty income guidelines made by the Department.

Code 1950, § 14-180; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-183; 1972, c. 839; 1987, c. 197; 1998, c. 872; 2017, cc. 226, 227; 2019, cc. 411, 730; 2020, c. 654.

§ 17.1-607. Security for costs upon suit by nonresident.

In any suit or action, except when an indigent is plaintiff, there may be a suggestion on the record in court, or, if the case be at rules, on the rule docket, by a defendant, or any officer of the court, that the plaintiff is not a resident of this Commonwealth and the security is required of him. After sixty days from such suggestion, the suit or action shall, by order of the court, be dismissed, unless, before the dismissal, it is proven that plaintiff is a resident of the Commonwealth or security be given before the court, or its clerk, for the payment of the costs and damages in the court in which the suit or action is instituted which may be awarded to the defendant, and of the fees due, or to become due, in such suit or action to the officers of the court. The security shall be by bond, payable to the Commonwealth, but there need only be one obligor therein, if he be sufficient and a resident of the Commonwealth. The court before whom, or before whose clerk, such bond is given, may, on motion by a defendant or officer, give judgment for so much as he is entitled to by virtue of such bond.

Code 1950, § 14-182; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-185; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-608. How obligor in such bond may obtain indemnity.

On the motion of an obligor in such bond, after reasonable notice to the plaintiff, his attorney-at-law or agent, the court may order bond to be given, with sufficient surety, in a penalty equal to the penalty of the former bond, payable to the applicant and with condition to indemnify and save harmless the applicant against all loss or damage, in consequence of executing the former bond. If the bond required under this section is not given within such time as the court may prescribe, it may order the suit to be dismissed.

Code 1950, § 14-183; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-186; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-609. Costs on certain motions and interlocutory orders.

Upon any motion, other than for a judgment for money, or upon any interlocutory order or proceeding, the court may give or refuse costs, at its discretion, unless otherwise provided. It may, when a demurrer is sustained to a plea in abatement, give judgment for the plaintiff for his full costs, to the time of sustaining it, an attorney's fee only excepted; and when any other part of the pleading is adjudged insufficient, order all costs occasioned by such insufficient pleading to be paid by him who committed the fault.

Code 1950, § 14-184; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-187; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-610. Payment of costs when new trial granted.

The party to whom a new trial is granted shall, prior to such new trial, pay the costs of the former trial, unless the court enter that the new trial is granted for misconduct of the opposite party, who, in such case, may be ordered to pay any costs which seem to the court reasonable. Such costs shall include the allowances to witnesses as provided in § 17.1-612. If the party who is to pay the costs of the former trial fails to pay the same at or before the next term after the new trial is granted, the court may, on the motion of the opposite party, set aside the order granting it, and proceed to judgment on the verdict or award execution for the costs, whichever seems best.

Code 1950, § 14-185; 1962, c. 227; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-188; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-611. Allowances to witnesses for Commonwealth.

All witnesses summoned for the Commonwealth shall be entitled to receive for each day's attendance all necessary tolls, and such reimbursement for his daily mileage as prescribed in § 2.2-2823. All allowances to witnesses summoned on behalf of the Commonwealth shall be paid by the treasurer of the county or corporation in which the trial is held or in which the grand jury is summoned and the amount so paid by such treasurer shall be refunded to him out of the state treasury, on a certificate of the clerk of the court in which the trial was held or before which the grand jury was summoned.

Code 1950, § 14-186; 1954, c. 709; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-189; 1972, c. 719; 1976, c. 308; 1977, c. 483; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-612. Allowances to other witnesses.

A person attending as a witness under a summons not covered by § 17.1-611, whether he is a witness from within or without the Commonwealth, shall be reimbursed for his daily mileage as prescribed in § 2.2-2823, and expenses for the tolls. On his oath an entry of the sum he is entitled to and for what and by what party it is to be paid shall be made: (i) by the clerk of either house or a committee of the General Assembly when the attendance is before such house or committee and (ii) in other cases by the clerk of the court in which the case is or the person before whom the witness attended. When the attendance was on behalf of the Commonwealth before a court, the entry shall be made upon the minutes of the court in which the case is docketed. A witness from outside the Commonwealth in any civil action may be allowed the same mileage and attendance fee as any other witness in any such action. However, no sums for attendance and mileage shall be allowed a witness from outside the Commonwealth, in any civil action, unless the judge of the court determines and certifies that the witness is a material witness in the matter for which he appeared. The court may allow such mileage and attendance fee or any portion thereof as the court may determine to be reasonable under the circumstances of the case. A witness summoned to attend in several cases may have the entry made against either of the parties by whom he is summoned, but no witness shall be allowed reimbursement for his attendance in more than one case at the same time. Every witness who qualifies as an expert witness, when compelled to attend and testify, shall be allowed such compensation and mileage as the court may, if requested in its discretion, order without regard to any limitation described above, but the same shall be paid by the party in whose behalf he shall testify.

Code 1950, § 14-187; 1952, c. 701; 1954, c. 709; 1962, c. 227; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-190; 1966, c. 671; 1972, c. 719; 1976, c. 308; 1977, c. 483; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-613. By whom and upon what certificate allowances to witnesses paid.

The sum to which a witness is entitled shall be paid out of the state treasury in any case of attendance before either house or a committee of the General Assembly and in any other case in which the attendance is for the Commonwealth except when it is otherwise specially provided. In all other cases it shall be paid by the party for whom the summons issued. The payment shall be on a certificate of the person required by § 17.1-612 to make the entry or the clerk of the court in whose minutes the entry is made. The certificate shall express by letters and not by figures the separate amount to which the witness is entitled for his attendance, traveling, and tolls which he may have to pay and the aggregate thereof. No clerk or other person authorized to make such entry or give such certificate shall become interested by purchase in any claim payable out of the state treasury which by law he is authorized to certify.

Code 1950, § 14-188; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-191; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-614. List of entries made on behalf of witnesses.

The clerk shall, immediately after the adjournment of any court, make out two lists of all entries made on behalf of witnesses attending for the Commonwealth, and certify one to the Supreme Court and the other to the county or city treasurer, to which lists shall be attached a certificate to the correctness of the allowances therein and the aggregate amount thereof signed by the judge of the court and by the clerk. Any dispute before or after issuing the certificate between the witness and the party against whom his claim is made as to its justice or amount may, when the case is in a court, be determined by such court. The Comptroller shall not issue a warrant for any claim allowed by a court to a witness unless it appears upon the list certified as herein provided, and, upon the payment of any such claim, the date of approval by the Supreme Court shall be noted on such list.

Code 1950, § 14-189; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-192; 1978, c. 195; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-615. Time within which witnesses may be paid out of state treasury.

No payment out of the state treasury shall be made to witnesses unless their claims are presented within two years from the time of rendering the service.

Code 1950, § 14-190; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-193; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-616. Restriction of costs for witnesses generally; when entry for witness not allowed.

The court may restrict the taxation in the costs for witnesses to so many as may be deemed just. No entry for a witness shall be made against a party recovering costs, after execution has issued for such party. In no case shall there be an entry of a witness for attendance at a term, after sixty days from the end of such term.

Code 1950, § 14-191; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-194; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-617. Number of witnesses paid fees in criminal cases.

Not more than the maximum number of witnesses provided for herein shall be paid out of the state treasury in criminal cases.

The maximum number that may be (i) caused to be summoned by an attorney for the Commonwealth in any one case to go before a grand jury -- five; (ii) used before a court not of record in the trial of any criminal case -- five; and (iii) caused to be summoned by an attorney for the Commonwealth for the trial of any criminal case -- ten.

Nothing herein shall be construed to limit (i) the number of witnesses that may be authorized by any court or the judge thereof to be used when the necessity for additional witnesses appears to the court or judge and the consent of the court or judge is first obtained or (ii) the number of witnesses that a grand jury may of its own motion summon.

Code 1950, § 14-192; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-195; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-618. Allowances for jurors; expenses of keeping jury together; fees of jury commissioners and commissioner in chancery for drawing of juries.

Every person summoned as a juror in a civil or criminal case shall be entitled to $50 for each day of attendance upon the court for expenses of travel incident to jury service and other necessary and reasonable costs as the court may direct. Jurors summoned from another political subdivision pursuant to § 8.01-363 may be allowed by the court, in addition to the above allowance, their actual expenses. When kept together overnight under the supervision of the court, the jurors and the sheriff or his deputies keeping the jury shall be furnished suitable board and lodging. Reimbursement for board and lodging shall be set by the judge in an amount not to exceed the amount authorized by travel regulations promulgated pursuant to § 2.2-2823. Allowances and other costs will be allowed a juror in only one case the same day.

Every person serving as a jury commissioner and every person serving as a commissioner in chancery for the drawing of juries for a circuit court of this Commonwealth may be allowed, by the court appointing him, a fee not exceeding $50 per day for the time actually engaged in such work and such other necessary and reasonable costs as the court may direct.

Code 1950, § 8-208.33; 1954, c. 709; 1958, cc. 216, 303; 1960, c. 366; 1964, c. 268, § 14.1-195.1; 1968, c. 632; 1969, Ex. Sess., c. 20; 1972, c. 719; 1973, c. 439; 1974, c. 220; 1975, c. 193; 1976, c. 308; 1977, c. 624; 1978, c. 230; 1980, cc. 593, 594; 1982, c. 610; 1983, c. 495; 1984, c. 512; 1993, cc. 345, 635; 1996, c. 332; 1998, c. 872; 2023, cc. 232, 233.

§ 17.1-619. How jurors paid.

A. The compensation and allowances of persons attending the court as jurors in all felony cases shall be paid by the Commonwealth. Jurors in misdemeanor cases shall be paid by the Commonwealth unless the charge is written on a local warrant or summons, in which case the jurors shall be paid by the political subdivision in which the summons is issued. Jurors in all civil cases shall be paid by the political subdivision in which the summons is issued. Payment in all cases shall be by negotiable check, warrant, cash, credit to a prepaid debit card or card account from which the juror is able to withdraw or transfer funds, or electronic transfer upon the Commonwealth, or the political subdivision, as the case may be. If payment is made by credit to a prepaid debit card or card account from which the juror is able to withdraw or transfer funds, such card or card account shall permit the juror to withdraw or transfer funds without incurring any fee for such withdrawal or transfer.

When, during the same day any juror is entitled to compensation from both the Commonwealth and from the political subdivision in which he has served, the court shall divide the pay for such day between the Commonwealth and the political subdivision. It shall be the duty of the sheriff at the term of the court during which an allowance is made or has been made under this section, to furnish the clerk of the court with a statement showing the number and names of the jurors in attendance upon the court.

B. A county or city may provide by local ordinance that a juror may direct in writing that compensation due him be paid to the court service unit or to any other agency, authority or organization which is ancillary to and provides services to the courts of the county or city.

Code 1950, § 8-208.34; 1954, c. 709; 1958, c. 303; 1960, c. 366; 1968, c. 632, § 14.1-195.2; 1969, Ex. Sess., c. 20; 1972, c. 719; 1973, c. 739; 1974, c. 208; 1975, c. 193; 1977, c. 624; 1982, c. 610; 1991, c. 78; 1998, c. 872; 2005, c. 173; 2017, c. 799.

§ 17.1-620. When juror not entitled to compensation.

No person shall be entitled to receive any compensation for service as a juror if he departs without the leave of the court, or, being summoned as a witness for the Commonwealth, charges for his attendance as such.

Code 1950, § 8-208.35; 1973, c. 439, § 14.1-195.3; 1977, c. 624; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-621. Clerk to make entry on minutes stating amount due and by whom payable.

The clerk of any court in which juries are impaneled shall, before its final adjournment at each term, and under the direction of the court, make an entry upon its minutes stating the amount to which each juror is entitled for his services or attendance during the term, and specifying how much is payable by the Commonwealth, and how much by the political subdivision.

Code 1950, § 8-208.36; 1973, c. 439, § 14.1-195.4; 1977, c. 624; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-622. Clerk to transmit orders making allowances to Supreme Court, treasurer and jurors.

Such clerk shall immediately, after the adjournment of the court, transmit to the Supreme Court a list of all orders under § 17.1-621 making allowances against the Commonwealth, and to the treasurer of the political subdivision a list of all such orders making allowances against the political subdivision, with a certificate to the correctness of the list and the aggregate amount thereof annexed thereto and signed by the judge of the court and himself, and such clerk shall also deliver to each juror copies of any orders making an allowance to him, whether the same be payable by the Commonwealth or by the political subdivision.

Code 1950, § 8-208.37; 1973, c. 439, § 14.1-195.5; 1977, c. 624; 1978, c. 195; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-623. Payment of allowances.

The treasurer of such political subdivision shall upon demand pay to such juror the amount allowed him by negotiable check, cash, or electronic transfer which shall be repaid to such treasurer out of the public treasury or out of the political subdivision levy, as the case may be, upon the production of satisfactory proof that the same has been actually paid by him. But such treasurer shall not be repaid any allowance made against the Commonwealth unless it appear on the list directed to be sent to the Supreme Court. No such allowance shall be paid unless presented within two years from the time of rendering the service.

Code 1950, § 8-208.38; 1973, c. 439, § 14.1-195.6; 1975, c. 193; 1977, c. 624; 1978, c. 195; 1998, c. 872; 2005, c. 173.

§ 17.1-624. Who to tax costs.

The clerk of the court wherein any party recovers costs shall tax the same.

Code 1950, § 14-193; 1952, c. 616; 1954, c. 99; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-196; 1984, c. 703; 1998, c. 872; 2014, c. 315.

§ 17.1-625. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2018, c. 35, cl. 1.

§ 17.1-626. Other items to be taxed in costs.

The clerk shall tax in the costs all taxes on process, and all fees of officers which the party appears to be chargeable with in the case wherein the recovery is, except that when in any court, on the same side, more than one copy of anything is obtained or taken out, there shall be taxed only the fee for one copy of the same thing. He shall also tax the costs of executing any order of publication made in the case for such party and of any advertisement from him in the case, made in pursuance of law, allowing the amount charged by the publisher, provided such publisher shall file with his certificate of publication or account a printed copy of his fixed rates of advertising, and his charge shall not exceed them, and the allowances to his witnesses, and every further sum which the court may deem reasonable and direct to be taxed for depositions taken out of the Commonwealth, or for any other matter.

Code 1950, § 14-195; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-198; 1994, c. 432; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-626.1. Recovery of costs in civil actions for bad checks.

A. In any civil action by a holder to recover the sum payable of a check drawn by the defendant on which payment has been refused by the payor bank because the drawer had no account or insufficient funds, or in any civil action following an arrest under § 18.2-181 or 18.2-182, the court, upon a determination that the plaintiff has prevailed, shall add the following amounts, as costs, to the amount due to the plaintiff for the check: (i) the sum of $30 to defray the cost of processing the returned check; and (ii) the base wage of one employee for time actually spent acting as a witness for the Commonwealth; provided, however, that the total amount of allowable costs granted under the provisions of this section shall not exceed the sum of $250 excluding restitution for the amount of the check.

B. Such award of costs shall be contingent upon a finding (i) that the plaintiff complied with the provisions in § 18.2-183 relating to notice and (ii) that the defendant failed to deliver payment or evidence of bank error to the plaintiff within five days after receipt of such notice.

1977, c. 329, § 6.1-118.1; 2010, cc. 343, 794.

§ 17.1-627. Premium on indemnifying bond taxed as costs.

In case of any attachment or any levy pursuant to a judgment, where the attaching or judgment creditor is required to give bond to indemnify and save harmless the officer executing such attachment or levy, the clerk shall tax in the costs of the proceeding wherein such attachment is had or judgment is entered the reasonable cost of such bond, such costs to be recovered as provided in § 17.1-601.

Code 1950, § 14-195.1; 1954, c. 470; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-199; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-628. Judgment or decree for costs on behalf of Commonwealth; costs to be paid into state treasury.

In a case wherein there is judgment or decree on behalf of the Commonwealth for costs, there shall be taxed in the costs the charge actually incurred to give any notice, although it be more than fifty cents; and the fees of attorneys and other officers for services, and allowances for attendance, as if such fees and allowances were payable out of the state treasury. What is so taxed for fees of, or allowance to, any person, shall be paid by the sheriff or officer who may receive such costs into the state treasury.

Code 1950, § 14-196; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-200; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-629. No judgment for costs against Commonwealth; exception.

In no case, civil or criminal, whether in a court of record or a court not of record, except when otherwise specially provided, shall there be a judgment for costs against the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 14-197; 1964, c. 386, § 14.1-201; 1998, c. 872.