London Borough of Hounslow v A Father & Mother (Costs in the Court of Protection – Disproportionate litigation) [2018] EWCOP 23

Costs were awarded against the London Borough of Hounslow after a dispute in which the local authority alleged the mother had mismanaged the Protected Party’s funds.

The Protected Party’s father was the DWP appointee responsible for administering the young man’s state benefits. Although separated from the father, the mother assisted with their son’s financial arrangements and the son’s Disability Living Allowance was paid into her account. The local authority raised a safeguarding enquiry due to an allegation of financial abuse against the mother who was alleged to be mismanaging the son’s benefits. The local authority eventually withdrew its application after the mother produced the relevant bank statements but by then the local authority’s costs had risen to £15,000 and the father’s costs to £50,000, which in District Judge Eldergill’s view, were wholly out of step with the costs provisions of the Court of Protection Rules 2007 and 2017.

The Judge found that the litigation was conducted disproportionately by both the local authority and the father’s solicitors, and that there was a failure to focus on the simple central issue of whether the bank statements into which the benefits were paid evidenced any misuse of funds. The local authority was ordered to pay 90% of the father’s assessed costs, the 10% reduction reflecting the court’s finding on the litigation conduct of the other party. The local authority was also invited to agree an ex gratia payment with the mother, who had acted in person.

The full judgment can be read here.

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