Peters & Peters

Peters & Peters in “possibly largest ever” magistrates’ costs award in attempted private prosecution

Peters & Peters on 8 June 2021 secured a significant costs award against a would-be private prosecutor in an application in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The judge said this award was proportionate even though he had remarked during the hearing that the total amount claimed in costs was possibly the largest ever made in the Magistrates’ Court.

In making this decision the district judge agreed with all submissions made by counsel for our client. In particular, he dismissed the submission by counsel for the respondent that costs be assessed by the Lord Chancellor, for fear of sinking into the Dickensian territory of Jarndyce v Jarndyce.

The costs application resulted from a successful application by this firm on 16 April 2021 to quash a summons in a private prosecution that had been brought against our client for allegedly attempting to pervert the course of public justice. These allegations arose in the context of ongoing and complex civil proceedings in the High Court. In his ruling, on 19 April 2021, the same district judge agreed that the private prosecutor had failed to draw key events to his attention which were highly relevant. The district judge went on to say that the private prosecutor had misled the Court and committed a clear breach of their duty of candour. Had he been made aware of these key events, the district judge ruled, he would have refused the application for a summons as vexatious.

This costs order brings to an end an attempted private prosecution which has been robustly defended by Peters & Peters. It was one of many pieces of litigation between our client and the private prosecutor, which stretch across many years and jurisdictions.

Partner Jasvinder Nakhwal and Associate Dominic Bullen acted on this case. Counsel instructed by Peters & Peters were Hugo Keith QC (Three Raymond Buildings) and Ben FitzGerald (QEB Hollis Whiteman).