England and Wales
It was in the public interest to resolve the question as to whether a housing trust was a “public authority” under the Human Rights Act and this justified granting a Protective Costs Order (PCO) to allow the Respondent to participate in the appellate proceedings.
The Applicant had challenged a notice of possession. The High Court dismissed the challenge; however they made a declaration that the housing trust was a “public authority” for the purpose of the Human Rights Act. The housing trust appealed this decision. The Applicant sought a PCO in connection with the appeal proceedings.
The Court of Appeal granted a PCO to the effect that the housing trust could not seek costs against the applicant or the Legal Services Commission.
The case raised issues of general public importance and it was in the public interest to resolve them. The appeal was instigated by the housing trust and was not conducted to assert a private interest of the Applicant. The possession order against her would stand, regardless of the result of the appeal. The Applicant’s interest was no greater than other tenants in the same position as her.
Points of note
This case is interesting as the Court of Appeal granted a PCO in favour of a Respondent to proceedings, emphasising the importance of oral argument on both sides. It provides useful comment as to what constitutes “private interest”.