The country’s most senior judge has expressed ‘grave concern’ over the £1 million legal bill run up by the couple in the the see-saw Mildenhall Stadium court battle.
Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, was today giving the latest in a number of rulings in the battle waged by Katherine Lawrence and Raymond Shields over the ‘noise nuisance’ they suffered from Mildenhall Stadium at West Row
The stadium is less than 1km from Fenland, in Cooks Drove, West Row, which was the home of Lawrence and Shields. They claimed they were not aware of it when they purchased the property.
The case first went to the High Court where a judge awarded them £20,000 compensation but the Appeal Court then stripped them of it.
In February this year it was reinstated by the Supreme Court. But the compensation pales into insignificance when viewed against the massive £1,067,000 costs lawyers for Lawrence and Shields say are due to them.
Under an earlier court ruling the stadium operators, David Coventry and Moto–Land UK Limited, will be liable to pay 60 per cent of that in addition to their own legal costs. However, they claim that being landed with a bill of this size would breach their human rights.
Even then, a further £400,000 of the bill would remain unpaid and could end up the responsibility of Lawrence and Shields.
Who pays what and how much, however, is still in the balance. The court has now postponed its decision on the legal costs for a further hearing at which the Government will be given a chance to have its say on the situation.
Lord Neuberger said Lawrence and Shields’ legal bills for the case comprised £398,000 ‘base costs’ run up by lawyers, plus their ‘no win no fee’ success fee which was likely to add a further £319,000 and an ‘after the event’ insurance premium of about £350,000.
The case when it returns is expected put the no win no fee system under the highest judicial scrutiny, but Lord Neuberger said today : “These figures are very disturbing.”
Referring to the costs which will remain outstanding even if the stadium operators do pay the 60 percent he said : “The fact that it can cost two citizens £400,000 in legal fees and disbursements to establish and enforce their right to live in peace in their home is on any view highly regrettable.”
He said that the point was reinforced by the fact that house in question was only worth £300,000.