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Home > Judgments > 2011 archive

D L & another v London Borough of Newham [2011] EWHC 2666 (Admin)

Order relating to the issue of costs and the return of a passport and other possessions in a long running case concerning a child.

Further order by Charles J in a case concerning a child, K.  The order provided that that there should be no further order for costs other than a detailed assessment of the claimants' publicly funded costs and that K's passport, other documents and personal possessions be returned within four days of service of the order.

In the first judgment in the case, Charles J had ordered a reconsideration by the defendant local authority of its decisions relating to placement of K be carried out and that the defendant should pay one half of the claimants' costs up to and including the date of the first judgment.  Written submissions on the outstanding issues relating to costs were made thereafter.

The aim of the claimants was to have K returned to them with a view to his adoption on the basis that that would be decided by the Family court but this aim was abandoned during the second hearing.  This then left the claims for declaratory relief and damages in respect of the first decision; the claimants lost those arguments.

The claimants' primary aim at the first hearing was not to achieve a reconsideration of the decision as to the placement of K by the local authority but to remove the local authority as the decision maker.  The claimants had succeeded in that respect but did not succeed on the return of K or their claims for declaratory relief and damages.

In the second judgment, Charles J also set out why the prospects of the claimants succeeding in their aim of K being returned to their care and being adopted by them were poor.

Charles J had not heard anything from the claimants on the issue of the return of documents and personal possessions to the Local Authority but on the information before him, ordered that the claimants should return K's passport, red book and all documents relating to his savings account or accounts.  Given the positions and earlier orders on costs, the reality of the costs order was to not make any further order save for a detailed assessment of the claimants' publicly funded costs.

Summary by Richard Tambling, barrister, 1 Garden Court

____________________________

Neutral Citation Number: [2011] EWHC 2666 (Admin)
Case No: CO/12757/2010
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 18/10/2011

Before :

M R JUSTICE CHARLES
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Between :

(1) DL

(2) ML 
Claimants

- and - 

London Borough of Newham Defendant

- and – 

Secretary of State for Education Interested Party

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R de Mello and Gina Allwood (instructed by Bhatia Best Solicitors) for the Claimants
Alexander Verdan QC (instructed by the Local Authority) for the Defendant
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FURTHER JUDGMENT
 
Charles J :
Introduction
1. I have delivered two judgments in this case.  As a result of the first I ordered a reconsideration by the Defendant local authority of its decisions relating to placement of K and that it should pay one half of the Claimants' costs up to and including 27th May 2011 (the date of the first judgment).  I have received written submissions on the outstanding issues relating to costs.

2. I have also received a letter from the local authority concerning the return by the Claimants of documents and possessions.

Costs
3. In my view, apart from an order for a detailed assessment of the Claimants' publicly funded costs, there should be no further order as to costs.

4. The aim of the Claimants was to have K returned to them with a view to his adoption on the basis that that would be decided by the Family court.  As appears from my second judgment this aim was abandoned during the second hearing after submissions in support of it, which attacked the new decision, had been made.  That left the claims for declaratory relief and damages in respect of the first decision.  The Claimants lost those arguments.

5. The Claimants primary aim at the first hearing was not to achieve a reconsideration of the decision as to the placement of K by the local authority but to remove the local authority as the decision maker.  So, at that stage, the Claimants won a battle.  However, they lost the war on both the return of K and their claims for declaratory relief and damages.

6. My second judgment also sets out why the prospects of the Claimants succeeding in their aim of K being returned to their care and being adopted by them were poor (see for example paragraph 16).

7. There were criticisms in the judgments of some of the conduct of both sides, absent the legal arguments raised by the Claimants at the first hearing which they lost the length of that hearing (and certainly the writing of the judgment) would have been reduced by over 50%.  Balancing the points relating to success and failure, litigation and other conduct and the points raised in both written submissions it seems to me that if anything they favour a conclusion that the Claimants should pay a percentage of the Defendant's costs rather than an order that the Defendant should pay all or more of the Claimants' costs up to 27 May 2011, as they seek.

8. But I see the pragmatic force of the Defendant's effective position that there should be no further order as to costs and have concluded that overall that is the fair result.

Return of documents and possessions
9. I have not heard anything from the Claimants on this but on the information presently before me it seems clear that they should return K's passport, red book and all documents relating to his savings account or accounts.

10. Accordingly, I order that they are to return those items within 4 days of service of an order upon them to that effect and that a penal notice is to be attached to that order.  The order is also to provide that they have liberty to apply to vary or discharge it and if that application is served before the expiry of the 4 day period referred to in the order that order is to be stayed pending further order of the court.