The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform made deportation orders against both Applicants. They obtained leave for judicial review of these orders, and sought also an order requiring that the Refugee Legal Service (sued as the Legal Aid Board because the RLS does not have separate legal personality) transfer their file to their new solicitors. When the Applicants disappeared, the Legal Aid Board and the Minister sought their costs. The Legal Aid Board sought to have the Applicants’ new solicitors fixed with their costs on the grounds that it ought not to have been a party to the proceedings. Such ‘wasted costs orders’ are provided for by Order 99, Rule 7 of the Rules of the Superior Courts.
The High Court made orders awarding costs to the Legal Aid Board and to the Minister against the Applicants. The Court held that Order 99, Rule 7 is designed to allow a client against whom a costs order has been made as a result of his solicitor’s misconduct or gross negligence to recover those costs from his solicitor. An order for wasted costs can be made directly against the solicitor. Practitioners have a duty not only to their clients but also Court to ensure that proceedings are not abused by vexatious, wasteful or speculative litigation. However, the Court noted that its jurisdiction to make wasted costs orders under Order 99, Rule 7 was one to be exercised sparingly in recognition of the important role that experienced and competent practitioners play in the administration of justice in the asylum process. The Court concluded that while misjudgements had been made by the Applicants’ solicitors in continuing proceedings against the Legal Aid Board, these did not amount to serious misconduct or gross negligence on their part. For that reason, the Court refused to make a wasted costs order under Order 99, Rule 7 against the solicitors.