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Local authority given permission to appeal to Supreme Court against costs order

Scope of T (Children) [201] UKSC 36 to be considered

The London Borough of Barnet has been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court from the judgment of the Court of Appeal in S (Children) [2014] EWCA Civ 135 in respect of the order that that the local authority should pay the father's costs in the Court of Appeal.

The father had appealed against final care and placement orders that had been made in respect of his daughter in July 2013.  The central feature of the appeal was whether the judgment at first instance had been compliant with the requirements set out in Re B-S (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 1146.

In the Court of Appeal counsel for the local authority had conceded the obvious scope for appeal in the judge's lack of substantive reasoning in light of the decision in Re B-S.  The Court of Appeal found that this reasoning had been clearly lacking.

The unanimous view of the Court of Appeal was that the judge was wrong to make the placement order without further assessment of the father and in any event that she did not adequately articulate her reasons for making the order. The appeal was therefore allowed and an interim care order substituted in place of the full care order and the case was remitted back to the judge.

The appellant had funded his appeal privately and therefore sought an order that his costs be met by the local authority.  The local authority had been forced to recognise the deficiencies of the original judgment but nevertheless had resisted the appeal.  In these circumstances, the Court of Appeal considered it appropriate that the local authority should be ordered to pay the father's costs. The Court considered that the case of  Re T (Children) [2012] UKSC 36 was distinguishable as it was directed at first instance hearings where public policy considerations militate against any possible financial deterrent to a local authority charged with the responsibility of protecting children from pursuing proceedings.

A hearing date has not yet been set for the appeal.