On 7th April, Collins issued a second judicial review application on behalf of its core participant clients at the Infected Blood Public Inquiry, to challenge a costs decision made by Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff.
Yesterday, 22nd April, the Infected Blood Inquiry filed paperwork in the Administrative Court outlining why it does not accept this challenge.
The process for challenging costs, as set out by Inquiry Rules, allows for disputed assessments either to be decided by a Costs Judge or the Inquiry Chair.
The Chair, on this occasion, has relied solely on the opinion of the costs lawyer – retained by the Inquiry – who in fact made the original costs decision. When challenged, Sir Brian Langstaff indicated that the Inquiry costs lawyer is wholly correct and that the assessment needs no further examination or explanation.
Des Collins, Senior Partner at Collins Solicitors, representing a total over 1,400 people in relation to the Infected Blood Public Inquiry, comments:
“The very existence of the Senior Courts Costs Office demonstrates that costs lawyers often disagree and such disputes are decided by a court. This is a representative challenge on behalf of all those that we represent.
This Inquiry was set up to find out what happened to thousands of people who received infected blood and infected blood products in the 1970s and 1980s. It is a public forum at which those infected and affected by this terrible tragedy are supposed to be heard and every core participant should, if they choose, have full legal representation from a recognised legal representative. The 2005 Inquiries Act provides that adequate funding be made available for those who need representation.
Currently, our core participant client base is funded to allow for a maximum of six minutes of paralegal time, per core participant, per month. This is not nearly enough time to allow us to fully understand and react appropriately to the challenges they face. In addition, due to the Inquiry’s change to the rules surrounding core participant status we currently represent more than 100 clients on a pro bono basis as the Inquiry has refused any funding to represent them.
Whilst it is our clients’ right to challenge the decisions of the Inquiry, they do not do so lightly. I do strongly believe that the Inquiry must follow its own Rules when reviewing disputed costs assessments.”
For more information, please contact:
Des Collins, Senior Partner, Collins Solicitors, T) 01923 223 324, M) 07831 522 540 firstname.lastname@example.org
Danielle Holliday, Partner, Collins Solicitors, T) 01923 223 324, M) 07540 531 753 email@example.com
Will Hulbert, PR, T) 01603 431 936, M) 07774 108 699 firstname.lastname@example.org