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SCCO determines inquest costs that are recoverable in principle in a case where liability was admitted pre-inquest

29th January 2018

Sian Reeves represented the Defendants (the Ministry of Justice and Care UK) at a detailed assessment of the Claimant’s costs.

The Claimant’s son died in custody.   The Claimant issued a claim against the Defendants for a declaration and damages for breaches of Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the ECHR, and for damages in negligence in respect of her son’s death.

Shortly before the substantive inquest commenced, the Defendants made an unqualified admission of liability in respect of the Claimant’s claim as pleaded.   The claim ultimately settled after the inquest.

Within her Bill of Costs, the Claimant sought substantial costs that had been incurred in respect of the inquest process, including the substantive inquest hearing itself.

Master Leonard determined which ‘inquest costs’ were, in principle, recoverable as being costs “of and incidental” to the civil proceedings within the meaning of section 51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981.

This is a potentially important judgment as it is the only recent ‘reported’ case on inquest costs where liability was admitted prior to the inquest commencing.

A further hearing is scheduled to assess the amount of costs payable pursuant to Master Leonard’s judgment on the preliminary issue of which inquest costs are recoverable in principle.

Sian Reeves was instructed by Stephensons Solicitors LLP on behalf of the Defendants.

The judgment was handed down on 8 January 2018 and is reported as Douglas v. Ministry of Justice & Anor [2018] EWHC B2 (Costs).

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Sian Reeves

Sian Reeves
Year of Call: 2006