Who should pay the special master in a quiet title action?
The special master procedure used in a conventional quiet title action is the same as is used in an action to quiet title against all the world. O.C.G.A. 23-3-43.
It is up to the Court to set “reasonable compensation” for the special master, and those “fees are to be taxed in the discretion of the court as a part of the costs.” O.C.G.A. 23-3-68.
As a practical matter, however, few competent attorneys would be willing to serve as a special master if they were not reasonably certain that they would get paid, and many require the Petitioner to pre-pay their fees or commit to be responsible for their fee.
However, because the special master’s compensation can be taxed as part of the costs, the Petitioner might seek to get repaid from the losing party pursuant to O.C.G.A. 9-11-54(d) which provides in part “…costs shall be allowed as a matter of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs…”
The Georgia Supreme Court has held that it is erroneous for the trial court to immediately pay the interim fees of a special master when the merits of the case were on appeal. Davis v. Harpagon Co., LLC, 637 S.E.2d 1, 281 Ga. 250 (2006).