Judge orders costs to be capped in judicial review of ACOs

The High Court has  enabled the judicial review[1] of the policy on accountable care organisations to go ahead by capping the Secretary of State’s and NHS England’s costs – i.e., the costs they can ask the claimants to pay if, at the end of the day, the claimants lose.

In an important judgment, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb dealt with and dismissed the Secretary of State’s and NHS England’s arguments against a cost cap and granted an order that in the event of the claimants losing the case, the liability for each defendant’s costs would be no more than £80,000, and she ordered them to pay the claimants’ costs of the hearing.

She found that this was a case which met the statutory test of public interest, brought by responsible and public-spirited individuals, and that as the costs of the defendants were “very high” it would be unreasonable in all the circumstances to expect the claimants to bear all of them. She added that as the public was funding both sides, as tax-payers and through CrowdJustice, a capping order was “entirely appropriate”.

She also ordered that in the event of the claimants winning the case, the defendants’ liability to pay their costs would be capped at £115,000.  Before the hearing, the claimants had offered to cap them lower than this.

The claimants have already raised over £165,000 (net) after two rounds of fund raising and private donations, and another £80,000 has been pledged and will be donated if the third round target of £100,000 is reached.

Dr Graham Winyard, speaking on behalf of the claimants said:

“This judgment is fantastic news and a great relief. We now know that the case will go ahead and the money our supporters have donated will be enough money to pay the defendants’ costs if we were to lose the JR, and that with a bit more fund-raising we have a good chance of being able to cover our own lawyers’ ‘reduced fee’ costs. It’s especially heartening that the judge recognised the public interest of the case.”

The claimants were represented in Court by Peter Mant of 39 Essex Chambers, instructed by Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors.


[1] brought by Professor Stephen Hawking, DFNHS Chair Dr Colin Hutchinson, Professors Allyson Pollock and Sue Richards, and Dr Graham Winyard: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/jeremy-hunt-judicial-review-stephen-hawking-accountable-care-organisations-back-door-privatisation-a8184161.html

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