An update on a High Court’s treatment of costs that is exceptionally harsh.
First published: March 2022.
Last month we told you about the Court’s decision that the Government had failed to comply with its obligations under equalities laws when appointing Dido Harding and Mike Coupe to important public health jobs during the pandemic. The Court’s finding that the Government ignored the public sector equality duty should have significant ramifications for the Government’s general approach to recruitment. However, the Court did not accept the argument that the Government had adopted a closed recruitment practice that indirectly discriminated against people with disabilities and/or those of colour.
We have now received an Order from the Court, requiring us and the Runnymede Trust to pay 80 per cent of the Government’s costs in this case. These are estimated to be £360,000 but will be subject to a detailed assessment by the Court in due course. We indemnified the Runnymede Trust against this risk to enable them to participate in the litigation and Good Law Project will meet these costs, using the funds you have so generously donated.
We emphasised to the Court the Government’s poor conduct when it came to costs, in particular the fact that their initial estimate ballooned from costs ‘in the region of £35,000 to £50,000’ to £360,000, and that updates were only provided when it was too late for us to seek costs protection. The Court was not prepared to adjust its Order in light of these points.
We think the Court’s treatment of costs is exceptionally harsh. We will review it with our counsel – however, it is unlikely we will be able to alter the Order.
We brought this case, alongside the Runnymede Trust, to force the Government to take seriously its legal, and moral, obligations to narrow the disadvantages faced by those outside the closed circle of people with disabilities and those of colour. We expect the Government to take steps going forward to ensure that its recruitment processes are fair, equitable and open to all.
Thank you, as always, for your support.
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- Text: This piece was originally published in the Good Law Project and re-published in PMP Magazine on 19 March 2022, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/sjiong. - Royal Courts of Justice. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)