SUPREME COURT COSTS OFFICE
London, EC4A 1DQ
B e f o r e :
| JACQUELINE KING
(administratrix of the estate of Robert Gadd, deceased)
|- and -
|MILTON KEYNES GENERAL NHS TRUST
Mr Benjamin Williams (instructed by Messrs Barlow Lyde & Gilbert) for the Defendant
Hearing date : 13th May 2004
Crown Copyright ©
"I have now considered the evidence presented at Inquest and your offer …"
"In respect of your legal costs in investigating this claim, we will consider your legal costs in the usual manner, to be assessed if not agreed."
The Defendant's position
(1) That there is no jurisdiction to allow "inquest costs" within the costs of subsequent civil proceedings. This he derived from the proposition that costs incurred in one set of proceedings cannot be recovered in another.
(2) In the alternative, that inquest costs should not be allowed in this case.
Direct authorities on jurisdiction
"… in relation to pre-death pain and suffering it was reasonable for the Steering Committee to coordinate the Claimants, to instruct Counsel and to attend the inquest."
On appeal from that decision, Clarke J. stated [at p.47 of the transcript of his judgment]:
"Master Hurst held that it was reasonable for the steering committee to co-ordinate the Claimants, to instruct counsel and to attend the inquest. I agree. That evidence was potentially relevant to the loss of life claims. It follows that, unless there are particular costs which are not fairly referable to the attendance at the inquest for that purpose, reasonable costs of attending the inquest are in my judgment recoverable."
"… The Bowbelle states the true rule. The costs of an inquest can be of and incidental to the costs of negligence proceedings, and they were in this case. I note that legal aid was only for a noting brief, but it was reasonable for the Claimant to play a larger role, to examine witnesses, and to have a full say in the findings made by the coronial court."
The nature of inquests
The no jurisdiction argument
"So those authorities show that the expression "of and incidental to" is a time-hallowed phrase in the context of costs and that it has received a limited meaning, and in particular that the words "incidental to" have been treated as denoting some subordinate costs to the costs of the action." (emphasis added)
29 It seems to me that the costs of attending an inquest (and asking questions) can be recoverable as costs incurred in the subsequent proceedings if the purpose - or a material purpose - of attending is to obtain evidence for the subsequent proceedings.
Recovery in the present case
The Human Rights Act