Costs News

24 November 2021
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News in brief - 25.11.2021

Fill the vacancies on the ACL Council

Members should have received an email this week inviting nominations for the two vacancies on the ACL Council. Supporting the association and the profession is in everyone’s interests and the council is key to that. The closing date is 6 December. Email enquiries@costslawyer.co.uk for more details.

 

Have your say on the state of costs practice

The annual ACL survey has been launched this week to coincide with today’s annual conference. If you’re not attending – or are reading this while there – you can have your say on the big issues facing Costs Lawyers by clicking here.

It should only take five minutes to complete and will help the association take the temperature of the market and provide opportunities to have our voice heard.

 

Insulate Britain protestors ordered to pay costs after contempt of court hearing

The nine Insulate Britain protestors jailed last week for contempt of court for breaching an order not to block the M25 have also been ordered to pay National Highways Ltd costs of £5,000 each for the costs of bringing the proceedings.

However, on summary assessment Dame Victoria Sharp, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, sitting with Mr Justice Chamberlain, more than halved the £91,300 sought mainly because of the excessive cost of counsel – National Highways sought advice from two QCs and four juniors in addition to brief fees for one QC and two junior counsel – and having three solicitors attend the hearing, which she said was not reasonable.

In National Highways Ltd v Heyatawin and Ors (Costs) [2021] EWHC 3093 (QB), she cited the recent ruling of the Supreme Court in Attorney General v Crossland [2021] UKSC 15, that when a respondent was found to be in contempt of court, “there will usually be no principled basis for opposing a costs order… Normally, the sole question will be whether the costs claimed are reasonable and proportionate".

The panel added that, in determining whether the claimed amount was reasonable and proportionate, the court may take into account the defendant's means.

Further, the court must ensure that the combination of the penal sanction and costs order do not constitute disproportionate interference with the defendant's rights under articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights – freedom of expression and of assembly and association respectively.

Deciding that £45,000 split equally between the protestors – who claimed limited means – was proportionate and reasonable, Dame Victoria said it should be paid within 35 days after each respondent’s release from custody.

“We would expect the claimant to enter into a dialogue with the defendants about how this liability is to be discharged.”

She went on: “We have considered whether a costs order for £5,000, when taken together with the custodial sanction imposed on each defendant, represents a proportionate interference with his or her rights under articles 10 and 11 ECHR.

“We conclude in each case that it does, having regard to (i) the deliberate decision taken by each defendant to defy the order of the court, (ii) the harm caused by the breach and (iii) the important public interest in securing compliance with orders of the court, in preventing disorder and in protecting the rights and freedom of the public.”

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