BNM –v- Mirror Group Newspapers Limited  EWHC B1 (Costs)
The issue of recovering additional liabilities was in the spotlight again at a Detailed Assessment before Master Gordon-Saker in November 2015.
The case related to a mobile phone of a primary school teacher, with no public or media profile, that went missing and found its way into the hands of the Defendant. The teacher had been in a relationship with a successful premier league footballer between 2008 and 2011. The Claimant pursued a legal case and succeeded in July 2014 with the Defendant agreeing not to disclose confidential information, agreed to pay damages of £20,000 and to pay the Claimant’s costs of the action.
Costs were claimed totaling over £240,000, which included a success fee of the Solicitor at 60%, a 75% success fee for Counsel, and an ATE premium of £58,000 plus IPT.
The Defendant objected to paying the additional liabilities as if they were ordered to pay the same, then it was claimed that it would be incompatible with their right to freedom of expression as a publisher under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECtHR).
Master Gordon-Saker considered the cases of MGN –v- United Kingdom  ECHR 66, Campbell –v- MGN  2 AC 457, and Coventry –v- Lawrence  WLR 3485. It was found that allowing a reasonable success fee to be recovered did not violate the Defendant’s right to freedom of expression as a publisher under Article 10. Consequently, a 33% success fee was awarded for all parties, along with the ATE premium as claimed.
Decisions of the ECtHR are not binding on domestic courts, but they must take them into account when reaching their decision.
So a success for the Claimant, but it does seem apparent that challenges to additional liabilities will continue to be made by paying parties, and this particular matter may still rumble on.
If you have any questions regarding the above matter or any other costs issues, then please do not hesitate to contact me on 01228 815394, by email or @TomBrocklebank on Twitter.