Total Cost to SOS Reduced From £150,000 to £56,274 – 62% Reduction
The final act in this long drawn out saga was played out at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday 7th June when the Cost Judge, Master Whalan, awarded a sum of £3,735 against SOS compared with the outstanding amount of £25,233 claimed.
The original claim for costs against SOS, delivered during the Christmas holiday on 29th December 2015, was for £121,846.27 with interest at 8% added until payment was completed. This huge sum was demanded for costs incurred by the Priory owners ‘in relation to dealing with the matter of deliberate neglect and producing a Design Statement’ at the public inquiry in January 2015. We believed this amount, together with the large amount claimed against the Parish Council, was disproportionate and a burden on the community that is hardly likely to aid the ambitions of the Priory owners who claim they wish to ‘work with the community’.
We engaged an experienced Cost Lawyer (Carina Patterson) to represent us. During the course of the last 17 months the original claim was whittled down and finally agreed out-of-court at £52,539 (including VAT and interest). This in itself was a mammoth task and a significant achievement resulting from much detailed investigation, expert analysis of the claim and negotiation. What remained to be added was the claim for £25,233 costs incurred by the Priory owners in reaching this settlement which included two court appearances. This was for determination by the Court on the 7th June.
The outcome was that the Cost Judge awarded £3,735 relating to the preliminary hearing in November 2016 but made no award for costs relating to the June hearing – each party to be responsible for their own costs. That was the best outcome we could have hoped for in the circumstances.
So, our liability amounts to £56,274 compared with almost £150,000 accrued in total – a reduction of approximately 62%.
We still have to add the payment to our own Cost Lawyer which is as yet unknown.
This outcome was achieved by Carina who worked throughout in close co-operation with the Cost Lawyer acting for the Parish Council and we are immensely indebted to her for her professional expertise and guidance. We have her fees to pay but our debt to her is much greater than money can repay.
As relieved as we are, the four elected SOS committee members have a legal liability to pay the substantial sum of £56,274 to the Priory owners within a limited time span – quite a price to pay and still a bitter pill to swallow for voicing the communities overwhelming opposition to the large expansion of our village that we believe will have a detrimental effect on our lives. The pressures on schools, health care and traffic have not gone away or been forgotten and the burden of addressing these falls on the public purse.
The four elected officers have had to pay the bulk of the money from personal funds along with loans, some from supporters, and donations large and small from the community for which we are very grateful.
If anyone wishes to help further, please contact the SOS Treasurer, Colin Westripp, No 1 The Bury, St Osyth, Essex CO16 8NY or email firstname.lastname@example.org.