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Multiple defendants and the rule of thumb (The Currabubula Principle)

Updated: Apr 30


Shaw v Niru Construction Pty Ltd & Anor (No.3) [2021] NSWDC 624


The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law that stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.


This is, thankfully (according to Wikipedia, which no lawyer worth their salt would ever refer to) just an awful myth.


But what is true is that a successful defendant should only be able to recover from the plaintiff a proportionate share of ‘common costs’ being those referable to the claim pressed (jointly) against both defendants, plus any costs solely referable to the plaintiff’s claim against the successful defendant. This is also known as the rule of thumb, or the Currabubula principle, and was considered last week in Shaw v Niru Construction Pty Ltd & Anor (No.3) [2021] NSWDC 624.


Once again, the Court reiterated that this would not apply in all cases, but in practice, this appears to be a good starting point and should be when considering the issue of costs.


This is important to consider when claiming or objecting to costs in cases where there are multiple parties involved.

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