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Winner takes all?

Successful litigants can no longer expect to be awarded all their costs after the recent Purfleet Farms decision, explains Mathew Ditchburn

28 February 2003

The Court of Appeal case Purfleet Farms Ltd v SoS for Transport, Local Government and the Regions [2002] EWCA Civ 1430 arose out of the compulsory purchase of land owned by the claimant (Purfleet) in connection with the Channel Tunnel rail link. Under s 5 of the Land Compensation Act, Purfleet was entitled to compensation equal to the market value of the land, which fell to the Lands Tribunal to determine. Purfleet claimed a compensation award of £12,260,000 and the Secretary of State made a settlement offer of £3,750,000. At the final hearing, Purfleet beat the offer but was awarded only £6,660,000: a somewhat more modest victory than it expected. Despite Purfleet’s apparent victory – it had, after all, beaten the Secretary of State’s offer – the Lands Tribunal awarded Purfleet only three quarters of its costs. Such a costs penalty is likely to have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Clearly this came as a surprise to Purfleet. They took the case to the Court of A...

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