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Coventry & Ors v Lawrence & Anor [2014] UKSC 46 - 23/07/14


The case arose out of a nuisance claim brought by the Lawrence and another (L) against Coventry and others (C, M & W). L inhabited a house near C's motorsports stadium. The Supreme Court had found C and M liable in nuisance. In the instant action the court considered the costs consequences of proceedings.

The costs order at first instance required C and M to pay 60% of L's base costs, success fee and after the event premium. The court considered whether the costs regime created by the Access to Justice Act 1999, and in particular the order for C and M to pay a proportion of the success fee and ATE premium, was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. It was found that the costs order might infringe C & M's article 6 or protocol 1, article 1 rights. However the court could not decide the point without giving the government the opportunity to make representations. If it was eventually found that the costs order did infringe convention rights, then the next action would be to make a declaration of incompatibility. At this stage the relevant provisions had been repealed and replaced so the necessity to do this was questionable but, if C and M wished to pursue the matter, then the appeal would be re-listed once notice had been given to the Attorney General and the Secretary of State for Justice.