Alan Payne QC and John Goss successfully resist substantial judicial review costs application

6 July 2022

Alan Payne QC and John Goss acted for the Secretary of State for the Home Department in R (City of Wolverhampton Council & ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWHC 1721 (Admin), in which Fordham J dealt with the costs of a judicial review claim that was withdrawn as academic shortly before a two-day hearing following a change in policy by the Home Secretary. The underlying claim related to the procurement of dispersal accommodation for asylum seekers, with the claimant local authorities objecting to the continued use of their areas for such accommodation. Following the change in policy the judicial review was withdrawn less than a week before the hearing. The claimants sought their costs, on the indemnity basis, which they estimated at just shy of £150,000, on the basis that they had substantially achieved the relief sought.

Fordham J made no order for costs. He held that the new policy was not simply a response to the judicial review proceedings but was the product of a longer and broader policy-making process which led its adoption on its merits. That was to be distinguished from cases where public law proceedings challenging decisions relating to particular individuals are conceded. In those circumstances, where it was not ‘tolerably clear’ who would have won the challenge to the lawfulness of the earlier policy, the appropriate costs position was that each party should bear its own costs.

This is likely to be an often-cited decision in relation to the costs of compromised judicial review proceedings relating to policy decisions. The judgment can be found here.

Alan and John are frequently instructed in all aspects of judicial review proceedings, as well as a wide variety of other public law matters.


Authors

John Goss

Call 2015

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Public & Administrative

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