Posted 19 weeks ago (07/02) by Theresa Goss
Summary of failed applications for Judicial Reviews and the Parish Council’s costs
The Parish Council has now recovered all the costs incurred in defending two applications for Judicial Review. That is the good news and all that many residents may wish to know. However, in light of many misleading rumours, half-truths and total fabrications that have been circulated in the course of the past 21 months, a full history is set out below most of which can be verified from Parish Council minutes or Court records.
Two applications for judicial review were served on the Parish Council; the first on 11-May-17; the second on 25-May-17.
An Extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council was called for 19-May-17 to discuss the first application and to agree action. The Parish Council agreed, by a majority, to oppose the application and to instruct Spratt Endicott to act. The Chairman and Clerk duly instructed Spratt Endicott and requested that an application for costs be included in the defence.
The second application for Judicial Review was reported to the Parish Council on 30-May-17 and approval was given to contest this in the same terms.
At the Parish Council meeting of 25-Jly-17, the final legal costs of opposing the Judicial Reviews were agreed at £6,100 plus VAT but there was no information from the Court as to progress. However, on 07-Jly-17, His Honour Justice Purle had refused the first application but the Parish Council was not informed of this for some time.
At the Parish Council meeting of 12-Sep-17, it was reported that His Honour Justice Purle had refused both applications and stated that, in his opinion: “The case was considered to be totally without merit: … The claim was in my judgement without any foundation at all.” Parish Council noted that the Chairman and Cllr Keith R Mitchell had written to the Court requesting an order for costs be made against the applicant for Judicial Reviews with a schedule of reasons and it was agreed not to use Spratt Endicott at this stage to avoid further legal bills.
At the Parish Council meeting of 31-Oct-17, it was again reported that an application for recovery of costs had been made and a response was awaited.
At the Parish Council meeting of 27-Mar-18, it was reported that His Honour Justice Cooke had ordered the applicant of the failed Judicial Reviews to reimburse the Parish Council for its legal costs in defending them. The lawyer applicant for the Judicial Reviews subsequently requested leave to appeal the decision.
On 13-Dec-2018, Rt Hon Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting in the Court of Appeal, allowed the application to appeal the cost decision to go forward, stating that he made the order “with no enthusiasm” and with the view that “it is perfectly understandable that Adderbury Parish Council thinks they should be awarded their costs”. Despite this he found technical arguments from the applicant convincing enough to allow the matter to go to appeal. The decision was communicated to the Clerk to the Parish Council on 20-Dec-18 by Spratt Endicott.
Following advice from Spratt Endicott and at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Parish Council on 15-Jan-19, the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Proper Officer of the Parish Council were given delegated powers in the following terms “the Parish Council delegates resolution of the issue to the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Proper Officer of the Council with instruction to secure an outcome that is beneficial to and at no further cost to the Parish Council. They are to report back to the Parish Council at the earliest opportunity when the confines of confidentiality and the potential for leakage to the litigant no longer exist. If necessary, further Extraordinary Meetings of the Parish Council can be called should the need arise.”
On 16-Jan-19, on the day following the 15-Jan-19 Parish Council, Spratt Endicott advised the Clerk to the Parish Council that the matter had been resolved by negotiation. The issue of costs will not be pursued further through the Courts. However, the Parish Council will be reimbursed for its full legal costs through Spratt Endicott and their insurers. Although this advice was given to the Clerk informally on 16-Jan-19, it has been necessary to wait for formal confirmation from Spratt Endicott’s insurers and this announcement is made following receipt of that confirmation. It is regrettable that rumours have been flying for several days but it was important to have the final outcome properly and fully confirmed before making this announcement.
Thus the matter has now been fully resolved and the Parish Council successfully defended the applications for Judicial Review and there will be no financial cost to the Parish Council as a result.
I should like to pay a special tribute to those members of the Parish Council both past and present who resolutely opposed the applications for Judicial Review and who faced some very intimidating and threatening communications during the process, particularly bearing in mind their lack of any legal background. I should particularly commend the Chairman and the Clerk for their persistence in the face of considerable difficulties and a barrage of e-mails and highly complicated legal terminology. Many individuals with less strength of character might have caved in to what might have appeared to be an insurmountable barrier but they persevered and the whole village should be grateful.
Keith R Mitchell CBE FCA FCCA
Vice Chairman, Adderbury Parish Council