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Recovering the costs of an inquest in subsequent civil proceedings.

Section 51 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 (as amended):

“S.51 Costs in civil division of Court of Appeal, High Court and county courts
(1) Subject to the provisions of this or any other enactment and to rules of court, the costs of and incidental to all proceedings in:

a) the civil division of the Court of Appeal;

b) the High Court; and 

c) any county court, shall be in the discretion of the court.

(2) …

(3) The court shall have full power to determine by whom and to what extent the costs are to be paid. … .”

The Bowbelle [1997] 2 LL.Rep. 196 (QB)

The costs of an inquest are recoverable as costs of a subsequent civil claim, where such costs are reasonably incurred, on the basis that such costs are incidental to the claim.

Stewart & Howard v Medway NHS Trust [2004] 1 Inquest LR 71 (SCCO)

The true rule is demonstrated by the decision in the Bowbelle case. Costs of an inquest can be ‘of and incidental to’ other actions.

King v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust [2004] EWHC 9007 (SCCO)

The costs of attending an inquest (and asking questions) can be recoverable as costs incurred in the subsequent proceedings if the purpose – or material purpose – of attending is to obtain evidence for the subsequent proceedings.

Roach and another v Home Office and Matthews v. Home Office [2009] EWHC 312 (QB)

The costs of attendance at an inquest are not incapable of recovery in subsequent proceedings. It does follow, however, that receiving parties are entitled to 100% of their inquest costs.

The costs of the inquest will only be recoverable in subsequent civil proceedings to the extent that they are incidental to those proceedings. In order to determine this issue, the principles identified in In Re Gibson’s Settlement Trusts (1981) 1 All ER 233 at 239g (per Megarry VC) are available to be applied. They require a consideration of whether or not the pre-action costs were: (1) proved to be of use and service in the civil claim; (2) relevant to an issue; or (3) attributable to the conduct of the paying party.

March 4, 2013 · Editorial Team · Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases