Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 49 - The Suitors' Fund Act

Project No. 49

Commenced: 1973
Completed: 1977

The purpose of the Suitors’ Fund Act 1964 (WA) is to provide a fund that can be drawn upon to assist in the payment of costs incurred by litigants where decisions are upset on appeal or proceedings are rendered abortive through no fault of their own such as by the death or long illness of a judicial officer. The Fund is financed by contributions by litigants (a levy upon certain originating processes in the courts)1 together with interest accruing from investment of any sum not immediately required and is administered by the Appeal Costs Board.

The Act applies to both criminal and civil proceedings, though the circumstances in which costs are payable in these two types of proceedings are not identical. Accordingly the Commission decided to deal with the reference in two parts: Part A was concerned with civil proceedings and Part B with criminal proceedings.

Terms of Reference

In 1973 the Commission was asked to inquire into the operation of the Suitors’ Fund Act 1964 (WA), for the purpose of determining whether the purposes for which the Act was introduced were being fulfilled, and if not, for the purpose of rendering the Act more effective.


The Suitors’ Fund Act Amendment Act 1978 (WA) was introduced to redress an injustice concerning persons suffering from a disability. The Suitors’ Fund Act Amendment Act (No 2) 1978 (WA) was introduced to remedy the situation where an unsuccessful respondent to an appeal on a question of law from a Local Court to the District Court could not be indemnified in respect of his or her own, and the appellant’s, costs. Both amendments were highly specific and laudable but failed to implement the substantive recommendations.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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