QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
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The Respondent did not appear and was not represented.
Crown Copyright ©
"The application(s) .... to transfer and renew the Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence(s) be refused due to his failure to comply with the Council's policies particularly with regard to the timing of the renewed application(s)."
"I would accordingly hold that the proper approach to questions of this kind can for convenience be summarised in three propositions:
1. Section 64(1) [Magistrates' Courts Act 1980] confers a discretion upon a magistrates' court to make such order as to costs as it thinks just and reasonable. That provision applies both to the quantum of the costs (if any) to be paid, but also as to the party (if any) which should pay them.
2. What the court will think just and reasonable will depend on all the relevant facts and circumstances of the case before the court. The court may think it just and reasonable that costs should follow the event, but need not think so in all cases covered by the subsection.
3. Where a complainant has successfully challenged before justices an administrative decision made by a police or regulatory authority acting honestly, reasonably, properly and on grounds that reasonably appeared to be sound, in exercise of its public duty, the court should consider, in addition to any other relevant fact or circumstances, both (i) the financial prejudice to the particular complainant in the particular circumstances if an order for costs is not made in his favour; and (ii) the need to encourage public authorities to make and stand by honest, reasonable and apparently sound administrative decisions made in the public interest without fear of exposure to undue financial prejudice if the decision is successfully challenged."
"In reaching our decision we followed the case of Bradford City Metropolitan District Council v Eric Wilson Booth The Times 10th May 2000. Although we found that the Respondent could have done more to bring the renewal of the licences to the attention of the Appellant, we nevertheless recognised that the primary duty rests with the licence holder. The Respondent had acted in accordance with its policies. No representations were made as to the financial prejudice to the Appellant."
And, at paragraph 21:
"We returned to open Court and delivered the following decision 'We have considered the case of Bradford City Council-v-Booth and in view of the findings will not allow costs'."
"In view of the findings of fact in this case, did the Magistrates err in law (or were the magistrates wrong in law) in refusing the Appellant his costs in whole or in part?"
I confess that I find the justices' reasoning, stated as it was in summary form, is confusing. Mr Maddox, counsel who appears on behalf of the appellant, informed me that the policies to which the justices were referring in paragraph 20 of their case were policies which the respondent was submitting applied to judgment of a fresh application for the licensing of a vehicle as a hackney carriage. By the phrase the respondent "could have done more to bring the renewal of the licences to the attention of the Appellant", Mr Maddox informs me that the justices can only have meant informed the appellant of their requirements as to date of service of the application and of the insertion of the applicant's home address. It is conceded by Mr Maddox that no representations were made as to financial prejudice to the appellant, for a reason to which I shall come in a moment.