A prevailing party’s right to recover costs in an action exists only by virtue of statutory authority. See Steinberg v. Mealey, 263 App Div 479, 481 [3d Dept 1942]. At common law neither costs nor disbursements were allowed to the prevailing party. Common law courts have no inherent power to award costs and they were not included in the judgment. Their allowance has always been a creature of and regulated by statute. See Equitable Life Assurance Society v. Hughes, 125 NY 106, 108 . In the case of appeals, the applicable statutes are CPLR §§8107, 8203, 8204 and 8301.
“Statutory costs are a matter of right … in the nature of incidental damages allowed to indemnify a party against the expense of successfully asserting [or defending] his rights in court.” See Bernier v. Household Finance, 183 Misc 742, 745, 51 NYS2d 151 [Sup. Ct. NY Co., 1944]. They are not awarded “as a gratuity or emolument for inconvenience sustained, but constitute compensation for expense ordinarily incurred in the action.” See Munch Brewery v. Grief, 256 AppDiv 1075, 11 NYS2d 126, 127 [2d Dept 1939]. Neither are they “imposed as a punishment on the party who pays them, nor given as a bonus to the party who receives them.” See Hayman v. Morris, 37 NYS2d 884, 891 [Sup. Ct. NY Co., 1942].