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Supreme Court issues stark warning to Government

Posted Thursday 4th September 2014

The Supreme Court has warned the Government it may face billions of pounds of claims following indications it may be in breach of the Human Rights Act.

A long-running nuisance dispute, Coventry and others v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 46, concerned a row over annoyances involving the owners of a bungalow, and the owners and occupiers of a nearby motor racing track.

The Court was asked to consider whether the Defendant’s liability to pay a success fee and ATE premium (pre 1st April 2013) was in breach of the Defendant’s Article 6 and A1P1 rights.

The effect of the nuisance was valued at a maximum of £74,000.  However, the Court was evidently dismayed at the addition of a 100% success fee and a £350,000 ATE premium to base costs, in the region of £398,000.  This resulted in the total dispute costs spiralling to over £1-million.

The Supreme Court has expressed a view it ‘may be right’ that payment of a success fee and ATE premium might be in breach of the Defendant’s Article 6 and A1P1 rights.  However, the Supreme Court has declined to make a decision without affording the Government the chance to be heard.

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