UK: Croydon Council Case Highlights The Issues Around Costs For Many Local Housing Authorities

Last Updated: 3 February 2017
Article by Susan Elmore

Susan Elmore, Senior Associate and housing litigation specialist, acted for The London Borough of Croydon ("LBC") in its successful appeal against a county court decision to award an applicant for housing, Vanda Lopes ("VL"), 85% of her costs following settlement by consent of statutory county court appeal proceedings issued pursuant to Part 7, Section 204 of the Housing Act 1996 ("the Act").

VL's appeal was against a decision by LBC on a review of an earlier refusal to provide VL and her family with housing on the grounds that she was not homeless, or threatened with homelessness, finding she had accommodation available to her in Portugal. VL served fresh information after she had instigated the appeal. The High Court held that:

  • LBC had not failed to carry out adequate inquiries; and
  • Had the appeal been fought, LBC would have been successful in resisting it; and
  • As LBC would have to entertain a fresh homelessness application in any event;
  • So it was entitled to its costs.

The facts in brief

VL challenged LBC's review decision pursuant to Section 202 of the Act that VL was not homeless as she had accommodation in Portugal which was available and suitable for her and her family's occupation. The accommodation was a flat which she had previously occupied with her partner, two children, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and his family.

This decision was reached following two interviews conducted by LBC with VL, with an interpreter present at both. The notes of the first interview with VL recorded that "she left as there was no work in Portugal" and that she was not asked to leave. Her partner and children continued to live in the flat when she came to the UK. The second interview notes recorded that VL had again stated that she was not asked to leave but that as there was tension and disagreements with her brother-in-law, she had been told to find a solution to the issue and so had left to find work in the UK. It was only after she found work that her family came to reside with her. LBC had concluded that VL had planned her move to the UK and had not been evicted from the flat by her mother-in-law. VL appealed.

Shortly after lodging the appeal, VL served a witness statement exhibiting a letter from her mother-in-law stating she would not be able to accommodate VL and her family at her home in Portugal. 

Due to this fresh information, VL agreed to withdraw her appeal and LBC agreed to withdraw its decision, the subject of the appeal and issue a fresh Section 202 review decision.  

The issue of costs

As to the costs of the appeal, VL argued that she should recover her costs as she had obtained the relief sought as if she had won her appeal. LBC argued VL would have lost her appeal but that it would have had to entertain a fresh application based on the new evidence from VL's mother-in-law in any event, and so it should recover its costs of the appeal. 

The issue of costs was determined by the court on paper. VL submitted that LBC had failed to make reasonable and proper  inquiries before making its decision and that, had it contacted VL's mother-in-law, it would have obtained the new information before its Section 202 decision was reached. VL would not therefore have had to submit this new evidence on appeal. 

Further, that the effect of the Judgment of Lord Neuberger in Regina (M) v Croydon LBC (2012) EWCA Civ 595 1 W.L.R. 2607 at paragraph (61) was that VL should be awarded her costs because Croydon Council had agreed to make a fresh decision on her homelessness application and she had therefore received the relief sought.   

LBC submitted that it had made appropriate inquiries by interviewing VL twice, with a person present who could interpret for her and in relying on what she had said.    As a fresh application would in any event have had to be entertained based on the fresh information, it was commercially sensible to agree within the appeal to undertake a fresh review when the fresh information could then be considered.  Further LBC submitted that it would have won the appeal had it not been compromised for commercial reasons.

The Central London County Court judge, HHJ Bailey, awarded VL 85% of her costs of the appeal. LBC appealed against that costs order.

The issues on appeal before the High Court

  1. Was the judge wrong in ordering LBC to pay 85% of VL's costs of the appeal?; and
  2. If so, what was the correct order for costs, that:
  • VL pays the costs of the appeal
  • That there be no order for costs

The High Court decision

In reaching its decision, the High Court held that:

  1. The court below had failed to identify and apply the appropriate test in determining whether proper inquiries had been made. It was for LBC to decide what inquiries were appropriate to enable it to be satisfied of the relevant matters under the Act, with its decision being subject to challenge on traditional public law grounds.
  2. That the question of costs in appeals settled by consent depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. As held in the case of Regina (M) v Croydon LBC: whether a party has succeeded in obtaining the relief sought, the facts of the case may make it appropriate to make:
    • No order as to costs; or
    • If it is reasonably clear who would have won to award that party their costs; or
    • Where settlement does not reflect a party's claim, to determine who would have won and award that party their costs.
    • Where it is not possible to determine without a disproportionate expenditure of judicial time, the appropriate order is no order for costs.
  3. The provisions of Practice Direction 52A provides that where an applicant does not wish to proceed with an appeal it can:
    • Ask the court to dismiss it, when costs will normally be awarded against the applicant;
    • Seek to agree with the respondent there should be no order for costs and ask the court to dismiss on this basis;
    • The claimant and the respondent can ask for the appeal to be dismissed, when if approved the appeal will be dismissed.

Applying the above, the High Court held that LBC would have succeeded on the appeal. It had:

  • Made appropriate inquiries by interviewing VL twice, in the presence of an interpreter; and
  • Obtained information from her as to the nature of the accommodation in Portugal, which she and her family were occupying;
  • That she had not been asked to leave that accommodation;and
  • That she had come to the UK to look for employment with a view to her partner and children joining her at that stage.

LBC did not act unlawfully by not making further inquiries or by not contacting VL's mother-in-law in Portugal. LBC was entitled to conclude on the material before it that VL was not homeless or threatened with homelessness. Accommodation was available for her and her family in Portugal.

Furthermore, the reason for LBC agreeing to withdraw its review decision, rather than fighting the appeal, was that VL had produced the new material, after she had instituted the appeal proceedings. That meant that LBC would be obliged to conduct further inquiries into any fresh application for housing assistance made on the basis of that new information, irrespective of the outcome of the appeal. The appeal had thereby been rendered academic but, had it been fought, the High Court held that LBC would have been successful in resisting it and so the successful party. In all those circumstances, the proper order was that VL pays the costs of the appeal, subject to any protection to which she was entitled by reason of being publicly funded.

Guidance on jurisdiction for hearing the costs appeal

This case also provides guidance on jurisdiction of statutory county court appeals on costs. At the permission to appeal stage the Court of Appeal held that where on an appeal there had been a decision on costs only and the court had not considered the validity of the underlying decision, an appeal in relation to those costs lay to the High Court not the Court of Appeal.


This case highlights the issues currently faced by many Local Housing Authorities on the issues around costs. It confirms that the court will not simply award a claimant its costs on the basis it obtained the relief sought, but will in appropriate cases order costs against an applicant.

The fact a party may have obtained all or some of the relief sought is not always a reason to award that party its costs. Consideration must be given to the circumstance leading to an agreement between the parties as well as the merits of each party's case. 

Of the merits of the challenge, it is for the council to judge what inquiries are necessary and it is only susceptible to a successful challenge if it is considered that no reasonable council would have failed to regard as necessary the further inquiries suggested by the applicant for assistance. That such additional enquiries may have been 'helpful' is not sufficient.

Further, LBC took a sensible approach in agreeing to carry out a fresh review decision to consider the new information submitted by VL. The alternative approach was to fight the appeal, when at the same time, VL was entitled to make a fresh homelessness application, when, LBC would be required to consider the new information in any event.

Although costs in the case at first instance can only be enforced with leave of the Court against a legally aided applicant, the costs in the appeal are recoverable from the Legal Aid Agency, which must be claimed within three months of the order awarding the costs.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
31 Oct 2017, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Gowling WLG and ACA Aponix have joined forces to provide a practical session for regulated financial services businesses, putting the legal requirements into context and giving you concrete actions.

1 Nov 2017, Seminar, London, UK

Our next ThinkHouse Foundations session has again taken on board your feedback from the last session which means we are turning our attention to employment, cloud and warranties and liabilities.

2 Nov 2017, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Our next ThinkHouse Foundations session has again taken on board your feedback from the last session which means we are turning our attention to employment, cloud and warranties and liabilities.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.