Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 22, 2003

Successful appellants were awarded the costs of their appeals to the Privy Council. Where one of the appellant's had been granted special leave to appeal as a poor person, but his status subsequently changed, his entitlement to costs was limited to those costs incurred once he was self-funded.Application by the appellants ('B' and 'L') for an award, on the standard basis, of their costs before the Privy Council and in the courts below following their successful appeals against charges of murder in the British Virgin Islands. The respondent ('the Crown') opposed the application. At issue was: (i) whether L, having been granted special leave to appeal as a poor person, had retained that status; and (ii) whether the appellants should have been awarded costs, and if so, in relation to which court proceedings.HELD: (1) On the information provided L was sufficiently in funds such that he had to be treated as no longer having the status of a poor person as from 31 December 2002. The requisite steps to bring the change in L's status as poor person to the attention of the Privy Council Office and the Crown had not been taken. However L himself was not to blame for the inept way in which the matter was handled by his solicitors and the situation was not irretrievable. (2) Whether the award should extend to costs in the courts below as well as before the Privy Council had to be decided in light of local statutes and the practice in the local courts. As a matter of practice in the British Virgin Islands costs were not awarded against the Crown after a trial on indictment and the appellants' application for costs in the courts below would be refused. (3) In the circumstances, as fully set out in the judgment in Benedetto v The Queen (No.1) (2003) 1 WLR 1545, it was appropriate that an order be made for payment by the Crown of the appellants' costs before the Privy Council, to be taxed on the standard scale. B was to receive the costs of his appeal including his application for special leave. L was to receive the costs of his appeal as incurred after 31 December 2002 but excluding his application for special leave.Judgment accordingly.

[2003] UKPC 70