In the conjoined appeals of Willow Court Management Co Ltd v Ratna Alexander, Shelley Sinclair v 231 Sussex Gardens Right to Manage Ltd, Raymond Stone v 54 Hogarth Road, London SW5 Management Ltd  UKUT 290 (LC),
...the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) provided useful guidance on how the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) should exercise the power conferred on it by rule 13(1)(b) Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013, when considering making an award of costs against a party on account of their unreasonable behaviour in bringing, defending or conducting proceedings before it.
The Upper Tribunal adopted the meaning of “unreasonable” enunciated by the Court of Appeal in Ridehalgh v Horsefield  Ch 205. “Unreasonable” conduct included conduct which was vexatious, and designed to harass the other side rather than advance the resolution of the case. The mere fact that the conduct led to an unsuccessful outcome was insufficient.
The following systematic approach to applications made under rule 13(1)(b) was recommended:
At the second and third stages the tribunal when exercising its discretion must have regard to all relevant circumstances.
The fact that a party was unrepresented may be a relevant factor at the first stage and to a lesser extent at the second and third stages. When exercising the discretion conferred by rule 13(1)(b) the tribunal should have regard to all material facts, including any mitigating circumstances, but without “excessive indulgence” or allowing the absence of representation to become an excuse for unreasonable conduct.
A genuine willingness on the part of a party to mediate, even if unreciprocated, should garner credit, if other aspects of their conduct gave rise to a tribunal considering making an order.
Philippa Seal, of chambers, appeared for the successful applicant, Ms Sinclair.
Elizabeth Dwomoh / 31st Aug 2016
The information and any commentary on the law contained on this web site is provided free of charge for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by any member of Chambers. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter and not to rely on the information or comments on this site. No responsibility is accepted for the content or accuracy of linked sites.
If you like what you've read but want to know more about how we can help you, simply call us:
Alternatively you can send us an email and a member of our team will contact you as soon as possible.