Julie recently represented a parent in very acrimonious Children Act proceedings. At the conclusion of the case, an application was made by the other side for costs, the total expenditure by that party being £48,000. The Court expressed considerable surprise at the amount spent in a case which was not exceptional in terms of either its facts or the evidence. The application was defended on the basis that the applicant for costs had been intransigent meaning that a final hearing was likely in any event, that the applicant’s solicitors had incurred unreasonable expense in the case for example by having a partner of the firm attend counsel at the final hearing, and that it would be impossible to quantify which costs should be apportioned to whichever element of the case the Court found to have been unreasonably pursued or defended. Costs were refused.
It is worth considering that in acrimonious cases, the delays in the court system often unfortunately give rise to extended periods of heated correspondence and the consequent increase in costs. In cases such as this, arbitration should be considered, the main benefit being that the case would have been heard in weeks rather than months and such a shocking level of costs would not have been incurred.