In a brand new case at the Family Division of the High Court, an unnamed firm of solicitors has received a ‘wasted costs order’ of £18,000.
Such orders oblige one side in a legal case to pay back unnecessary costs incurred by the other. The case concerned a father living in the United States, who came to the conclusion that his child and former wife were living in England. In fact they were in Pakistan at the time.
He applied for a location order under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. As the mother was actually not in the UK at the time, she could not be located so the order was made open-ended. When the mother did eventually travel to the UK six months later her passport was confiscated.
The father eventually accepted that neither the mother nor their child had been in the UK when the order was made and offered to withdraw it provided the mother did not pursue payment of her legal costs. She refused.
When the case came before the Hon Mr Justice Charles, he ruled that there had been a number of “serious and inexcusable failures” surrounding the application for the location order.
He was clear that:
“The making of the order on 12 December 2011 continuing the location order on an open ended basis led to its enforcement and the mother incurring costs.”
As a result of the solicitors’ approach:
“… the court was not presented with as candid or fair account of the position .. or of the strengths and weaknesses of the father’s case, as was reasonably and proportionately practicable.”
The judge declined to name the solicitors or barristers featured in the case due to the “endemic nature of the failures in this case”