Costs of private solicitor denied – 2020vol2#48

An application for the costs of a mother’s legal team was denied by a District Court judge in a regional town. The barrister for the mother told the judge that this case was exceptional and the mother (who qualified for legal aid) had the right to obtain legal representation from her own private solicitor and not from the Legal Aid Board.

The mother had consented to an extension of an interim care order in respect of her six-month-old baby. The baby, who suffered with a congenital health problem, recently underwent surgery and was doing relatively well in hospital. The mother also had a number of older children and the court was informed by the social worker that the Child and Family Agency (CFA) were monitoring the situation in respect of the older children.

The barrister argued that the mother could seek the costs of her legal representation due to the exceptional circumstances surrounding the care proceedings. The barrister said that the baby’s health condition was exceptional and he handed the judge a copy of the decision of Mr Justice MacMenamin in CFA v. OA (2015 [IESC] 52).

The judge read the decision and heard submissions on behalf of both the barrister for the mother and the solicitor for the CFA, who opposed the application.

The judge decided that ordinarily costs were not awarded and while he acknowledged that the medical condition of the child was exceptional, he decided that the facts of the case were not exceptional and for that reason the application for costs was denied.