Costs judgment in North London Coroner ‘cab-rank’ burial case


Re: R (Adath Yisroel Burial Society & Anor) v HM Senior Coroner for Inner North London [2018] EWHC 1286 (Admin)

The claimants in this case applied for an order that all of their costs of the claim for judicial review should be paid by the defendant Coroner subject to detailed assessment.

The Court declined to order the defendant to pay all of the claimants’ costs but decided instead that it was fair that the defendant pay the claimants’ costs from 8 March 2018.  It held that there were two related bases for such a costs order:
i) First, the defendant’s failure to reconsider her policy in light of the Chief Coroner’s intervention.  This is an important consideration when considering where, in fairness, the claimants’ costs should fall (the fourth limb of Davies).
ii) Secondly, her Addendum Detailed Grounds, filed in answer to the Chief Coroner’s detailed grounds, mark the point at which she ceased to be neutral in stance (second limb of Davies). By them and from that point she advocated the correctness of her policy.  She was no longer simply giving information to the court.

The Court decided that it was not able to reach a conclusion as to whether or not the defendant, acting without representation and effectively as a litigant in person, had acted unreasonably.  The Divisional Court commented  that the question of whether there was a drafting error in Regulation 17 the Coroner Allowances, Fees and Expenses Regulations 2013, made pursuant to section 34 of and Schedule 7 to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, in which no reference appears to a coroner’s liability for costs,  plainly needed to be considered and resolved.  Coroners must have certainty about the scope and extent of the indemnity to which they are entitled under the legislation.

Jonathan Glasson QC was involved in this case.