In re T (Children): SC 25 Jul 2012

The local authority had commenced care proceedings, alleging abuse. After lengthy proceedings, of seven men and two grandparents, all but one were exonerated. The grandparents had not been entitled to legal aid, and had had to mortgage their house for legal costs. Despite being exonerated, the judge followed the normal practice of not awarding costs in children cases. The Court of Appeal made an order for costs, and the Authority now appealed.
Held: The appeal succeeded. There should be no exception to the general rule of not awarding costs save in case of reprehensible proceedings merely because the hearing had been a discrete fact finding hearing.
The fundamental reason for the difference from other civil proceedings was the absence of the adversarial approach. Care proceedings will usually involve allegations of misconduct. The decision to hold a split hearing was a case management one, and could not found a difference of approach. That injustice might flow where a party could not receive legal aid, was not a reason for transferring a perceived deficiency in public funding onto the local authority. The authority were acting under a public law duty to investigate allegations of child abuse in a role akin to that of a prosecuting authority.

Lord Phillips (President), Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Dyson, Lord Carnwath
[2012] UKSC 36, UKSC 2010/0244, [2012] Fam Law 1325, [2012] 3 FCR 137, [2012] 5 Costs LR 914, [2012] PTSR 1379, [2012] WLR(D) 223, [2012] 1 WLR 2281
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC
Family Procedure Rules 2010 (SI 2010/2955) 1.2
England and Wales
CitedSutton London Borough Council v Davis (Number 2) FD 8-Jul-1994
The local authority had refused to register a childminder, who successfully appealed to the magistrates, who awarded costs in her favour. The local authority appealed against the costs order. In doing so the authority urged the court to apply, by . .
Appeal fromIn re T (A Child) CA 18-Nov-2010
Paternal grandparents appealed against a refusal to make an order for costs in their favour against the local authority. The refusal was made in the course of care proceedings brought by the local authority in relation to two grandchildren. The . .
CitedB (M) v B (R) (Note) CA 1968
The court suggested that it would have been wrong to make an order for costs in a custody dispute because it would exacerbate the feelings between the parents to the ultimate detriment of the child. . .
CitedGojkovic v Gojkovic (No 2) CA 1-Apr-1991
In ancillary relief proceedings, the husband had not made frank disclosure of his assets. The final Calderbank offer of andpound;600,000 was made only the day before the substantive hearing. The offer was rejected. The judge awarded the wife a lump . .
CitedIn re J (Children) (Costs of Fact-Finding Hearing) CA 26-Oct-2009
Mother and father disputed contact. The district judge held a fact finding hearing to resolve allegations of violence made by the mother and denied by the father. Most of the mother’s allegations were held to be established and she sought the costs . .
CitedIn Re M (A Minor) (Local Authority’s Costs) FD 9-Jan-1995
The local authority applied for permission to refuse contact between two children and their parents. The magistrates refused the application and ordered the local authority to pay the father’s costs. The authority appealed.
Held: The appeal . .
CitedR v R (Costs: Child Case); In re R (a Minor) CA 5-Dec-1996
The court analysed the reasons why costs orders were generally not made in cases involving children. . .
CitedIn re X, Y, Z (Minors) FD 18-May-2011
Costs on disputed care proceedings. Local Authority acting unreasonably in disclosure failings. Baker J rejected an application for costs against a local authority by an intervener who had been wholly exonerated in a fact finding hearing that was . .
CitedIn re R (Care: disclosure: nature of proceedings) FD 2002
In care proceedings, unproved allegations of harm were abandoned, before being rejected by the court. The threshold criteria were satisfied on a different ground, namely, neglect and emotional harm.
Held: As matters stood the local authority . .
CitedIn re X, (Emergency Protection Orders) FD 16-Mar-2006
Within two hours of a case conference which mentioned possible removal of children, but agreed other steps, the local authority applied for an emergency protection order, and forcibly removed the child from the family.
Held: The decision . .
CitedIn re B (Children) (Care Proceedings: Standard of Proof) (CAFCASS intervening) HL 11-Jun-2008
Balance of probabilities remains standard of proof
There had been cross allegations of abuse within the family, and concerns by the authorities for the children. The judge had been unable to decide whether the child had been shown to be ‘likely to suffer significant harm’ as a consequence. Having . .
CitedManchester City Council v G and Others CA 2-Aug-2011
The Council had been found to have wrongfully deprived the applicant of his liberty. They appealed now against an award of costs made against them.
Held: The appeal failed. The judge the power to depart from the usual order made under rule 157 . .
CitedCoventry City Council v X, Y and Z (Care Proceedings: Costs: Identification of Local Authority) FD 27-Sep-2010
Order made for identification of local authority criticised in care proceedings and order for costs. . .
CitedG v E and Others FD 21-Dec-2010
(Court of Protection) Baker J awarded costs against a local authority which had been guilty of misconduct which, he held, justified departure from the general rule. He observed: ‘Parties should be free to bring personal welfare issues to the Court . .
CitedM v London Borough of Croydon CA 8-May-2012
The court considered the proper approach to the award of costs in judicial review proceedings.
Held: The position should be no different for litigation in the Administrative Court from what it is in general civil litigation. . .

Cited by:
CitedRe S (A Child) SC 25-Mar-2015
The Court was asked as to the proper approach to ordering the unsuccessful party to pay the costs of a successful appeal in cases about the care and upbringing of children. It arises in the specific context of a parent’s successful appeal to the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Children, Costs

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.463147