QUEENS BENCH DIVISION
London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| The Queen on the Application of : ROYAL BOROUGH OF WINDSOR AND MAIDENHEAD
|- and -
DEWAR and Others
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited, 190 Fleet Street
London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7421 4040, Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Simon Pickles (instructed by Buckinghamshire County Council) for the Defendant
AS APPROVED BY THE COURT
CROWN COPYRIGHT ©
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Maurice Kay :
"A…..joint committee shall exercise its power to appoint members of a police authority under paragraph 2 so as to ensure that, so far as practicable, the members for whose appointment it is responsible reflect –
…….the balance of parties for the time being prevailing among the members of the relevant councils taken as a whole."
"Colleagues on the Police Authority Joint Committee, which I chair, are most grateful to the Royal Borough for agreeing to nominate a Liberal Democrat councillor to the Police Authority.
We fully appreciate and understand the wish of your new administration to be represented directly on the Police Authority and we are most grateful to you personally for the part you have played in achieving a resolution which is of advantage to your Berkshire Unitary Authority colleagues.
You rightly identify that the allocation of seats on the Police Authority falls to be reconsidered in two years time. As Chair of the Joint Committee, I am certainly willing to agree to do all I can to persuade colleagues that due recognition should be given to the Royal Borough's action on this occasion. Certainly, should we not be able to accommodate all authorities' preferences within the political balance constraints, an authority other than the Royal Borough will be invited to accept the difficult, and probably unwelcome, task of nominating a member other than from this administration on that occasion."
(1) Legitimate expectation.
"Where the court considers that a lawful promise or practice has induced a legitimate expectation of a benefit which is substantive, not simply procedural, authority now establishes that here too the court will in a proper case decide whether to frustrate the expectation is so unfair that to take a new and different course will amount to an abuse of power. Here, once the legitimacy of the expectation is established, the court will have the task of weighing the requirements of fairness against any overriding interest relied upon for the change of policy."
"It could be argued…..that this would result in a more equitable distribution than at present, as it more accurately reflects the current political distribution of seats within each authority."
THE ASSOCIATE: For judgment, the Queen on the application of Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead v Dewar.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: In this matter there will be judgment in accordance with the document that is handed down. That discloses that the application for judicial review has failed. Mr Pickles.
MR PICKLES: Your Lordship, would your Lordship then make orders if necessary dismissing this application but secondly as to costs. Subject to any submissions my learned friend may have to make on the principal, I must wish to make submissions about quantum.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: First things first. Miss Scott, I do not imagine there is any dispute in principal.
MISS SCOTT: That is correct. The only submission I would make is that this matter be subject to detailed assessment if not agreed.
MR PICKLES: Does your Lordship have the up-dated schedule. It is dated the 6th, today's date.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: £24,310, yes, that is it. The previous one just did not take into account today; is that it?
MR PICKLES: That is right. Your Lordship, it is a high figure and I think I must make submissions about it. Can I say this as two preliminary points. Number 1, I do seek, and strongly ask your Lordship to make an assessment today, because this is a piece of litigation between public authorities. It is desirable it should come to an end and it is really desirable that no more costs be incurred between these two essentially publicly-funded parties: number 1. And number 2, albeit the figure is high, I do invite your Lordship to bear in mind the claimant has the benefit of a multiplicity of defendants having cooperated and there not being any duplication of representation to the court.
As to quantum on the figures, your Lordship, I will be quite candid about what we invite your Lordship to do, it is to make an order of £18,000 on a summary assessment. So far as the figurework is concerned, your Lordship has, respectfully, a draft fee note of my fees. I do not presume to say anything about my fees. Those instructing me have set out a schedule of their fees and they are the bulk, a little over 66 per cent, of the total. Your Lordship, in ball park figure terms, counsel's fees come to approaching £8,000 and the solicitor's fees are about £16,500.
So far as the fees of those instructing me are concerned, the hourly rate of £1.20 I submit is not exceptionable. It is the number of hours spent that is responsible for driving up the quantum and I have an account of that. What I do invite your Lordship to do is to bear in mind the multiplicity of parties that we are representing here and the need at each stage to consult and take instructions from the legal advisers of the other parties, as well as consulting those within Buckinghamshire County Council in relation to each stage of the proceedings.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: What do you mean: that each time there was any development your solicitors had to write to each of the members of the joint committee separately?
MR PICKLES: Whether he wrote or whether he phoned.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: Sounds unlikely in any event.
MR PICKLES: Broadly speaking, there has been a great deal of consultation, but what I broadly invite your Lordship to do -- because some of the hours spent figures are very high --
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: They are.
MR PICKLES: I do not seek to hide from that, and I broadly submit a figure of £18,000 on the basis of reducing that figure by a third. I do not attempt any scientific explanation between categories, but that is the basis upon which I invite your Lordship to entertain the figure of £18,000.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: Thank you. Miss Scott?
MISS SCOTT: My Lord, the first submission I make is in relation to the hourly rate claimed of £120. Bearing in mind that this is the hourly rate for a public-sector solicitor, where there should be no element of profit, and an in-house lawyer outside London, it is my submission that that rate is high.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: What do you say it should be?
MISS SCOTT: My Lord, £100 an hour. The second submission is just in relation to the matter raised by my learned friend regarding corresponding with other parties. I am instructed that there was not in fact correspondence with legal officers in other councils as a matter of routine, and so it is my submission that while the time estimate may have been expanded in part as a consequence of that fact, that would not have significantly increased the amount of time that would have to be spent on this matter.
My Lord, the third submission I make in response to this schedule is that of counsel's fees, which as my learned friend has pointed out approach £8,000. My Lord, you are in a better position than myself to know how complex or otherwise this case was, but just looking at the fees charged for, in particular, the skeleton argument and the days' hearing, it is my submission that they are high, and I would ask you to reduce those.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: So what's your ball park bid?
MISS SCOTT: Well, my Lord, as I say, it is difficult for me because, my Lord, I am not as familiar with the case as you are, my Lord, so I am not sure that it would be appropriate for me to offer up a figure, but I simply ask you to take those matters into account when assessing what is an appropriate fee for this matter.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: Yes. Thank you very much.
MR PICKLES: Your Lordship, may I just reply on one point, and that is in defence of -- I am not really used to doing this, but in defence of my skeleton argument fee. Your Lordship will have seen that our skeleton argument was in, and the italicised note that this has been delayed because we have not had the applicant's skeleton. My own estimate of time was that I spent about 40 per cent more time on our skeleton than I should reasonably have done, because I sat down on Tuesday of the week before the hearing without the applicant's skeleton and I had 40 per cent more than finished a skeleton responding to the notice itself when the applicant's skeleton finally came through. So I acknowledge that that is perhaps a larger figure than might otherwise have been, but that is the explanation of it.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: But if one looks at it historically, you had been involved in the case since August, with conferences, drafting acknowledgments of service, advising in conference, all before that. It is not as though you were coming to it cold.
MR PICKLES: No, no.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: Whatever attractions Mr Kovats' skeleton argument may have had, or may have been worth waiting for, the fact is that the case is set out in the claim form, as it always is.
MR PICKLES: Yes.
MR JUSTICE MAURICE KAY: I do rather take the view that it is appropriate to proceed to summary assessment, because otherwise there will rapidly become costs upon costs and I cannot think that is in anybody's interests. The amount claimed in total seems to me to go beyond the bounds of reasonableness. I say that more of the solicitors' fees than counsel's fees, although I do question the sums for the draft skeleton argument.
I am going to do what I am invited to, in the sense of summarily assessing costs by reference to a global figure rather than going through item by item. Mr Pickles wisely accepts that the £24,000 plus is unsustainable and asks for £18,000. I shall summarily assess costs at £14,500. Thank you both very much.