Harripaul v Lewisham LBC
 EWCA Civ 266, March 14, 2012
The Court of Appeal has held that, where a respondent authority concedes a homelessness appeal following the grant of permission to appeal by the Court of Appeal, the consequence of the respondent’s concession is that the appellant is to be regarded as the successful party on the appeal and that the starting point is that he should be entitled to his costs.
Clare Roberts of Arden Chambers appeared for the appellant.
The appellant was found intentionally homeless by the respondent local authority. She appealed that decision to the county court under s.204, Housing Act 1996. On January 20, 2011, her appeal was dismissed. On July 22, 2011, the Court of Appeal gave the appellant permission to appeal. In granting permission, the Court of Appeal expressed the view that the appellant had a real prospect of showing that the reviewing officer’s decision was materially deficient.
Following the grant of permission, the authority informed the appellant that they would withdraw the review decision and carry out a fresh review and they invited the appellant to withdraw the appeal. The authority’s reason for doing so was said to be the taking of an economic view of the likely costs of resisting the appeal. The dispute as to what, if any, costs order should be made was referred to the Court of Appeal to be decided on the basis of the parties’ written submissions.
Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal held that the correct approach to costs was on the basis that the consequence of the authority’s concession was that the appellant was to be regarded as the successful party on the appeal and that the starting point was that she should be entitled to her costs. The authority’s concession was a factor that had to be considered but it was not to be regarded as carrying the day in their favour. If the authority had come to the view that the issue as to the soundness of the reviewing officer’s decision did not merit the incurring of legal costs in arguing about it, they could well have taken that decision before, or at an early stage of, the county court appeal. The Court was not satisfied that, in the circumstances of the case, there were any factors justifying a departure from the general rule that the appellant should be regarded as the successful party and that she was entitled to her costs.