Costs experts have expressed shock at a landmark decision of a High Court judge not to award costs to a winning party
Mrs Justice Steel declined to provide any explanation for why she refused costs to lawyers at Gordon Dadds. David Holland, a costs expert at 29 Bedford Row, said: "It's highly unusual and wholly unsatisfactory for a successful litigant in commercial proceedings not to recover at least a proportion of these costs." Gordon Dadds partner Cormac Cawley was acting for Michael Verrechia, who was claiming £141,500 damages from the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis for police interference with his property. The police made a £5,500 settlement offer, which was rejected by Cawley. If he had accepted, this would have placed the case into a small costs matter for which lawyers are not paid. Verrechia was finally awarded £53,225. Cawley said that notwithstanding the almost unheard-of situation of no costs being awarded to the winning side, Judge Steel's decision was also strange because non payment of costs traditionally arises out of bad behaviour, usually relating to time delays. Cawley contended that there were no such delays and, in fact, he even made a settlement offer of £98,600 - £42,900 less than his damages claim. After Judge Steel made a no costs order in her reserved judgment, parties made written submissions on costs, which were then considered by the court. However, Steel stuck with her no costs decision. Other costs expert commentators said that Gordon Dadds' appeal on 26 March before the Master of the Rolls is highly likely to be successful.