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Local Authority named in failed care proceedings where it was ordered to contribute to LSC’s costs

Latest judgment published on Family Law Week

Last week Judge Clifford Bellamy granted the BBC's application that a local authority – against whom the judge had made an award of £100,000 towards settlement of the parents' costs, funded by the Legal Services Commission, in failed care proceedings – should be named.

The authority was, in fact, Coventry City Council.

HHJ Bellamy said in his judgment in Re X, Y and Z (Children):

"[W]ithin the last six months the local authority has twice sought to persuade the court to authorise the immediate interim removal of the children from the care of their parents, it now seeks leave to withdraw the proceedings in their entirety. It seems likely that the proceedings will cost the LSC somewhere in the region of £398,000. The local authority's own legal costs are no doubt also substantial."

After reviewing the history of the litigation, HHJ Bellamy, applying the approach of Cazalet J in Re M (Local Authority's Costs), had asked: is the conduct of the local authority reprehensible or beyond the band of what is reasonable? He concluded that the local authority's conduct of this case fell outside the band of what is reasonable. He therefore ordered that the local authority pay the sum of £50,000 towards the costs of each parent (i.e. £100,000 in total).

For that judgment, click here.

In the current proceedings, HHJ Bellamy said:

'I accept that a key piece of information is missing and that is the identity of the local authority. When weighed in the balance against the potential breach of the children's Art 8 rights and the risks that flow from such a breach, is it a proportionate restriction on the Art 10 rights of this BBC to restrain the identification of this local authority? I have come to the conclusion that it is not. The residents of Coventry have the right to know that the local authority concerned in this case is Coventry City Council and the BBC has the right to report that fact.'

For the judgment granting the BBC's application, click here.