In The Queen on the Application of MS (Afghanistan) v SSHD, we brought Judicial Review proceedings, with the Claimant seeking to challenge the decision to cease his asylum support on 19 February 2020. The Claimant had been accepted to be a refugee by the Defendant but had been unable to access Universal Credit and Local Authority accommodation by the time that his asylum support was due to stop.
Interim relief for the continuation of asylum support was granted by the Honourable Mr Justice Johnson, to avoid the risk of the Claimant becoming homeless and destitute.
The Claimant, in due course, was able to access Universal Credit and accommodation, following which the Judicial Review was withdrawn by consent, with written submissions on costs.
On 23 February 2021, His Honour Justice Worster made no order for costs, contending that ‘[t]he interim order may well have provided the Claimant with the relief he sought from the claim, but I question whether this amounts to “success” for the purposes of the general rule’. Justice Worster had been provided with an order from a similar case, where costs had been awarded.
Permission to appeal has been granted to the Court of Appeal. In granting permission, the Rt Hon Lady Justice Simler stated that there is a compelling reason to hear the appeal, as to whether the grant of interim relief amounts to success for costs purposes in these, or similar, circumstances.
These Judicial Review proceedings are part of a number of similar cases challenging the cessation of asylum support, brought by the Public Law Department in Birmingham, which have received a mixture of decisions on costs.
Commenting on the case, Public Law solicitor Darren Middleton said ‘[t]he case is important including that the Home Office seem to be resisting costs in Judicial Review proceedings, in the hope that they can get a Judge ruling in their favour, which is what has happened in this case. It is important to challenge, what we view to be, an unfair judgment. Recovering inter partes costs from the other party is important both for preserving legal aid funds, and also the viability of legal aid work for practitioners’.
The Duncan Lewis legal team is Ahmed Aydeed, Darren Middleton and Anna Somo. Counsel instructed is Tim Buley QC of Landmark Chambers and Raza Halim of Garden Court Chambers.