C (A Child) (Wasted Costs), Re [2015] EWHC 3259 (Fam) (09 November 2015)

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Claire RobsonThis Judgment was given by Mr Justice Cobb on 09 November 2015 in respect of the mother’s Application for a Costs Order.  This Application was made within Contact proceedings issued by the father in respect of the child of the family.

The background to the matter was that the child of the family had been born in England, but had moved to live in America in 2013, after the mother married an American.  Proceedings had been issued in both America and England; however at the hearing on 06 July 2015 permission had been given to the father to withdraw his Applications.  This was on the basis that there was an existing substantive Order in America, that the father had recently made an Application in America to vary the existing Order and that the United States District Court Southern District of Florida (Miami) had exclusive jurisdiction in relation to the child’s welfare.

An Application for a Costs Order was made due to the failure of the father’s Solicitor to file evidence as per the Case Management directions and their failure to inform the mother’s Solicitor that the father had made an Application in America on 03 June 2015 to vary the existing Order.  The father’s Solicitor had also failed to notify the Clerk of the Rules of the father’s changed position until 02 July 2015, after the mother’s Solicitor had already done so, and had also failed to provide the Court with a Trial bundle.  At the hearing on 06 July 2015, it was Ordered that the father’s Solicitor show cause in writing, why they should not pay a contribution to the mother’s costs of the hearing in the amount of £1,250.00 or 25% of the assessed costs.

The Court subsequently received a Statement from the father’s Solicitor, which acknowledged that the father’s evidence had not been filed in accordance with the Case Management Order, explaining that the mother’s Statement had also not been filed in accordance with directions (the mother’s Solicitor had stated that this was due to funding issues).  The Statement also confirmed that they had not notified the mother’s Solicitor of the father’s Application in America, as they believed that she would have been served directly and that it was not within their jurisdiction.  Apologies were received from the father’s Solicitor.

In his Judgment, Mr Justice Cobb referred to the rules of the Court and various Case Law, emphasising that ‘the effective management of family cases before the Courts depends upon strict compliance by parties with Court Orders.’  Mr Justice Cobb also referred to the rules set out in section 51 (7) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 in respect of the making of an Order for wasted costs.  Mr Justice Cobb concluded in his Judgment that the explanations offered by the father’s Solicitor did not adequately account for the failures and therefore the mother and the Court had been put to additional cost.  Mr Justice Cobb therefore made the Order that the father’s Solicitor shall contribute £1,250.00 or 25% of the assessed costs of the mother for the hearing on 06 July 2015, whichever the lesser sum.

The full judgment can be read here

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