LANDS TRIBUNAL FOR NORTHERN IRELAND

LANDS TRIBUNAL AND COMPENSATION ACT (NORTHERN IRELAND) 1964

PROPERTY (NORTHERN IRELAND) ORDER 1978

IN THE MATTER OF A REFERENCE

R/86/2007

BETWEEN

PATRICIA FRANCIS HUNT AND HAMPTON PROPERTIES LIMITED – APPLICANTS

AND

THE TRUSTEES OF BELVOIR GOLF CLUB – RESPONDENTS

 

Re: 79-81 Church Road, Newtownbreda, Belfast

 

PART III - COSTS

 

Lands Tribunal – Henry M Spence MRICS Dip.Rating IRRV (Hons)

 

 

Background

1.       The applicants had referred to this Tribunal for modification or extinguishment of a covenant so as to permit building close to the boundary of the respondents’ golf course.  By a decision dated 24th January 2013 the Tribunal refused their application.

 

2.       The only remaining issue was the amount of costs being sought by the respondents’ expert witness.  Having considered written submissions from both parties the Tribunal awarded the respondents’ their expert witness costs in full.  The issue now is a claim for costs (“costs on costs”) incurred by the respondents in their application for the costs awarded (“the award on costs”).

 

3.       The Tribunal received written submissions from Mr Bill McCann (applicants) and Mr Shaun Jemphrey (respondents) the solicitors for the parties.

 

Position of the Parties

4.       The respondents sought solicitors costs based on 14.4 hours at £200 per hour.  The applicants considered this level of costs to be excessive in the circumstances of the case.

 

 

Discussion

5.       The elements of the costs claimed were:

 

          Work undertaken

·         Review of experts file                                                                       1 hour

·         Preparation of submission made on 4th February 2014                   1½ hours

·         Preparation of further submission made on 12th April 2014             2 hours

·         Preparation of the final submission made on 16th June 2014          ½ hour

Consultations

·         Joint consultation at High Court - 25th June 2013                            1 hour

Attendance at Court

·         Attendance at mentions on 3 occurrences – 20th July 2013

21st June 2013 and 24th June 2014                                             1½ hours

Phone Calls                                                                                              170 minutes

Correspondence

·           36 letters                                                                                            216 minutes

Attendance upon Clients

·           Meeting with applicants – 8th October 2013                                     ½ hour

                                                                                     TOTAL         866 minutes

                                                                                                          14.4 hours

 

6.       Mr Jemphrey considered that an hourly rate of £200 was reasonable in all the circumstances.

 

7.       Mr McCann considered the respondents’ costs to be excessive and suggested that 7 hours at £175 per hour was more appropriate.

 

8.       The Tribunal has a power to make an award for costs on costs.  In the award on costs the Tribunal found in favour of the respondents and in principle, therefore, the respondents are entitled to recover costs on costs.  Costs generally, however, should be pursued with the greatest economy. The Tribunal accepts that the time spent on itemised attendances was reasonable but the Tribunal considers that an abatement of the time spent on phone calls (170 minutes) and letters (216 minutes) is justified.  The Tribunal concludes that a total “time spent” of 11 hours would be appropriate.

 

9.       With regard to the hourly rate claimed of £200 the Tribunal considers this to be high in the circumstances of a “costs” case which did not raise any difficult legal issues.  The Tribunal considers the hourly rate of £175, as proposed by Mr McCann, to be more proportionate and reasonable.

 

Conclusion

10.     The Tribunal therefore concludes that the respondents’ reasonable costs are:

 

                   11 hours at £175 per hour =                  £1,925 plus VAT

 

11.     The Tribunal awards a lump sum of £1,925 plus VAT.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                    ORDERS ACCORDINGLY

 

 

28th October 2014                              Henry M Spence MRICS Dip.Rating IRRV (Hons)

                                                            LANDS TRIBUNAL FOR NORTHERN IRELAND