New Judgment: Hunt v North Somerset Council  UKSC 51
22 Wednesday Jul 2015
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 1320
The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal in relation to costs but dismissed it in relation to declaratory relief.
The appellant has learning difficulties and behavioural problems and as a result the respondent Council are statutorily required to secure access for him to sufficient educational and recreational leisure-time activities for the improvement of his well-being.
The appellant challenged the respondent Council’s decision to cut its funding to the Youth Services budget for the year 2012/13. The Supreme Court had to decide whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to rule that the appellant, alleging that the Council had failed to discharge its consultation duties under the Education Act 1996, s 507B, and have due regard to the public sector equality duty, should not receive any relief at all and ordering him to pay the Council’s costs.
In giving the lead judgment Lord Toulson stated that the judgment of the Court of Appeal itself contained a ruling that the Council acted unlawfully and the authority of its judgment would be no greater or less by making or not making a declaration in the form of the order to the same effect.
In relation to costs, Toulson reasoned that the Court of Appeal fell into error by treating the Council as the successful party when in fact it was only successful in the limited sense that the findings of failure came too late to do anything about. Consequently, Lord Toulson ruled that the Court of Appeal’s order should be set aside and substituted with an order that the appellant recover two thirds of his costs both in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal.
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