News in brief – 19.09.2019

SCCO e-filing webinars next week

In advance of the voluntary use of electronic filing coming to the Senior Courts Costs Office on 7 October, it is running three WebEx webinars – one-hour events hosted by Thomson Reuters – to provide professional users with an introduction to the system.

Click on the links to register:

Tuesday 24 September at 10am

Wednesday 25 September at 10am

Thursday 26 September at 10am


High Court costs order for asylum seeker overturned

A deputy High Court judge was wrong to order the home secretary to pay 75% of a claimant’s costs in an asylum case where the claimant had only succeeded on one small part of his claim, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The claimant, WS, sought to argue that he had been unlawfully detained awaiting removal from the UK between August 2016 and February 2018, and also challenged his asylum application being certified as clearly unfounded.

The home secretary conceded that the last month of detention was unlawful, but otherwise all the claims were dismissed. Nonetheless, Mr Michael Kent QC ordered that WS receive 75% of his costs, noting that unlawful detention was a serious matter. The home secretary had sought 80% of her costs.

On appeal in R (on the application of Sanneh) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWCA Civ 1319, Lord Justice Peter Jackson said: “I am clear that the judge’s decision on costs cannot stand. The reality, noted by the judge in his ruling but not reflected in his determination, is that while WS was a successful party in the proceedings, he was not the only successful party. While any finding of unlawful detention is a serious matter, WS only succeeded in one aspect of his much larger claim.

“As against that, the Secretary of State succeeded in relation to the previous 20 months of detention and ultimately on the issue of certification. The duration of the proceedings during which costs were accumulating largely coincided with claims that were unsuccessful, if not indeed unreasonable.

“Further, even if the judge was right to characterise WS as the successful party, the extent of deduction from his costs did not to any sufficient degree reflect the contours of the case as established by his findings and conclusions. I therefore consider that the judge departed from correct principle to such a degree that we must intervene and make a fresh order.”

Describing the Secretary of State’s claim for 80% as “extremely ambitious”, Peter Jackson LJ ruled that the correct order was for each side to pay its own costs.

Alice Carse (instructed by the Government Legal Department) appeared for the appellant and Becket Beckford (instructed by Dylan Conrad Kreolle) for the respondent.


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Costs News
Published date
19 Sep 2019

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