Goodwood Recoveries Ltd v Breen: CA 19 Apr 2005

A claim against the defendant for money owed to someone else had been bought by the claimant of which Slater, a solicitor, was a director and shareholder. The claim was pursued in the name of the claimant by Slater as its solicitor and principal witness pursuant to a conditional fee agreement. The claim failed and Slater’s honesty was seriously impugned by the judge. An application that the costs of the defendant should be paid by Slater personally on an indemnity basis succeeded. Slater appealed.
Held: The jurisdiction for making personal costs orders against a director of a company involved in litigation is a developing one and: ‘Where a non-party director can be described as the ‘real party’, seeking his own benefit, controlling and/or funding the litigation, then even where he has acted in good faith or without any impropriety, justice may well demand that he be liable in costs on a fact-sensitive and objective assessment of the circumstances. It may also be noted that in Lord Brown’s comments at para 33 of his opinion ‘the pursuit of speculative litigation’ is put into the same category as ‘impropriety’.’ The director was found to be guilty of procuring the claimant company, of which he was a director, to commit improprieties in its prosecution of the claim with the result that the court concluded that those improprieties were causative of the entire costs incurred by the defendant in his successful defence.


Lord Justice May and
Lord Justice Rix


[2005] EWCA Civ 414, [2006] 1 WLR 2723, [2007] 2 Costs LR 147, [2006] 2 All ER 533




England and Wales


CitedAiden Shipping Co Ltd v Interbulk Ltd (The ‘Vimeira’) HL 1986
Wide Application of Costs Against Third Party
A claim had been made against charterers by the ship owners, and in turn by the charterers against their sub-charterers. Notice of motion were issued after arbitration awards were not accepted. When heard, costs awards were made, which were now . .

Cited by:

CitedBE Studios Ltd v Smith and Williamson Ltd ChD 2-Dec-2005
The claimant company had failed in its action. The court was asked to make a costs order personally against the principal director of the claimant who had controlled the litigation and funded it. He responded that no impropriety had been shown on . .
CitedDolphin Quays Developments Ltd v Mills and others CA 17-May-2007
The owner had agreed to sell a long lease of an apartment to the defendant. Part of the price was to be by way of set off of an existing debt, but ths was not set out in the contract. The claimant bought the land and the benfit of the contract from . .
CitedChantrey Vellacott v The Convergence Group Plc and others ChD 31-Jul-2007
The claimants, a firm of accountants, sued their former clients for unpaid fees. The defendant company counterclaimed for professional negligence. The claimant had expended andpound;5.6m in costs. The claimants now sought a non-party costs order . .
CitedNelson v Greening and Sykes (Builders) Ltd CA 18-Dec-2007
The builders had obtained a charging order for the costs awarded to them in extensive litigation, and a third party costs order but without the third party having opportunity to test the bill delivered. They had agreed to sell land to the defendant, . .
CitedGoknur v Aytacli CA 13-Jul-2021
Third Party Costs – Director of Insolvent Company
(Organic Village) The Court considered the circumstances Limited in which a director and shareholder of an insolvent company may be personally liable for some or all of that company’s costs liabilities incurred in unsuccessful litigation, pursuant . .
CitedHB v PB FD 9-Jul-2013
Claim for costs against third party local authority, Croydon LBC after four day private law fact finding hearing. F said that M had fabricated illnesses both in herself and the child leading to the LA being asked to prepare a report. That report . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 05 May 2022; Ref: scu.224253