(Family Division, Keehan J, 17 February 2017)
Costs – Human Rights Act claim – Public funding – Statutory charge – Whether a costs order could and should be made against the Lord Chancellor
An order for costs was made against the Lord Chancellor in Human Rights Act 1998 proceedings.
During the course of care proceedings in relation to the 8-year-old boy an application for declarations and damages was made under the Human Rights Act 1998 against the local authority.
The HRA claim was settled and the local authority agreed to pay £18,000 in damages.
An issue arose as to whether the Legal Aid Agency would contend that the statutory charge would attach to any damages awarded to the child in respect of the costs incurred under the public funding certificate issued in respect of the care proceedings. Ultimately the LAA decided the statutory charge would not apply to any HRA damages awarded to him. The process by which the LAA came to that decision gave rise to the local authority seeking an order for costs against the Lord Chancellor.
The judge held that the court did have the power to make a costs order against the Lord Chancellor and in the circumstances of this case it was fair, just and reasonable to do so. Costs payable were summarily assessed at £10,060.10.Keehan J provided guidance to practitioners and the Legal Aid Agency on the approach to be taken in HRA claims made during the currency of care proceedings.