Mr Justice Cobb Awards Costs Against Non-Party Local Authority
The father sought his wasted costs from the local authority under the ambit of Section 51(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981. Mr Justice Cobb considered submissions from the father and the local authority before making an order for costs against the local authority. Remarking that “the point of principle engaged is important”, His Lordship considered the limited authorities on non-party costs orders, in particular Symphony Group Plc v Hodgson  4 All ER 143, CA and more recently Globe Equities Ltd v Globe Legal Services Ltd  BLR 232. Whilst recognising the burden placed on both the human and financial resources of local authorities, Mr Justice Cobb found that the failings in this case had been “extensive” and had had a “profound effect on the conduct of the proceedings”. Furthermore His Lordship considered that a local authority in a private law case in which a section 37 report had been ordered would be sufficiently “closely connected” to justify the order. Click here to the text to the full judgment>>>
“Decision taking about care proceedings in local authorities follows a reasonably common approach following national guidelines. However, it is not simply a matter of deciding whether or not to start proceeding, but of determining when the moment has arrived that proceedings should be considered and what the alternatives might be. In local authorities visited, the decision taking process normally follows a number of stages, involving progressively more senior management, as well as legal advisers, to ensure that all other options have been explored before taking the major decision to take children away from their parents and into care”. (1.13 )
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