A v R: Mother ordered to pay costs in children proceedings

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Just a short post to mention a rare bird: a costs order made in children proceedings. It is also a warning to anyone reluctant to engage in the proceedings (a phenomenon with which all experienced family lawyers will be familiar).

The order was made by Her Honour Judge Corbett, sitting as a Section 9 Deputy Judge of the High Court, in the case A v R.

The case comprises two judgments: one in relation to the father's main application for child arrangements orders, specific issue orders and prohibited steps orders, and one in relation to his subsequent costs application.

I do not need to say much about the main application. The father was seeking contact and permission to remove the child to a non-Hague Convention country and to France for the purpose of holidays. The application was successful.

The father then applied for costs.

Whilst HHJ Corbett accepted that costs orders are rarely made in private law proceedings, this was a case where, in her judgment, the mother’s conduct was unreasonable. In particular, the mother had failed to file any evidence as ordered, and essentially failed to engage in the proceedings until just days before the final hearing.

HHJ Corbett concluded:

"The [mother's] conduct went far beyond what is reasonable, she made barely any effort to engage in these proceedings which were justifiably commenced by the [father]. In my judgment, taking all matters referred to herein into account, it is just to order her to make a contribution to the [father's] costs in the sum of £15,000."

Moral: Engage in the proceedings, whether you like it or not.