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HB v PB [2013] EWHC 1956 (Fam) - 09/07/13


Application for a non-party costs order against a local authority for wasted hearings caused by its failure to adequately prepare a report pursuant to s. 37, Children Act 1989.

Application granted. Held: An order against a non-party in family proceedings, although within the wide discretion of the court, is exceptional. Whether the circumstances relied on make it just to make such an order is a matter for judgment determined by comparison with the ordinary run of cases (Globe Equities Ltd v Globe Legal Services Ltd & Ors [1999] EWCA Civ 3023). Where the non-party is a public body, the courts may make an order against it where it fails to perform its statutory functions in such a way as to hinder the proper and expeditious conduct of litigation (Kelly v South Manchester Health Authority [1997] 3 All ER 274).

In the present case, the local authority's failures were extensive, systemic and had a profound effect on the conduct of the proceedings. The sum claimed was within the reasonable recoverable costs of the wasted hearings.