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Richard Boyle (instructed by Michael Rimer of the Legal Aid Agency) appeared on behalf of the Lord Chancellor in costs proceedings in the High Court, Administrative Division, heard by Lane J: Fuseon Ltd v Senior Courts Costs Office & the Lord Chancellor  EWHC 126 (Admin).
The Claimant had brought a private prosecution for fraud against one of its co-directors. The prosecution was successful and the director was sentenced to three years’ of imprisonment. A costs order was made in the Claimant’s favour for the costs of the prosecution. Those costs were determined by a Determining Officer (an employee of the Lord Chancellor) whose decision was appealed to Master Rowley. Master Rowley refused to alter the Determining Officer’s decision or certify any points of principle of general importance meaning that the Claimant had no right of appeal. As a result, the Claimant brought an unusual action, seeking to invoke the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction to quash the decision of Master Rowley on the basis that there had been a real injustice. To do so, it brought an action in the High Court against the Senior Courts Costs Office and the Lord Chancellor.
Lane J held that there had been a real injustice in relation to the appropriate hourly rates and also the application of the Singh reduction. However, he made a number of comments of application to future cases. He stated that a real injustice required more than just an error in law and must cause the Claimant very serious prejudice. He held that there may be grounds to compare the costs of private prosecutions with those charged by the CPS.