Full case report
Walker v Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (Costs)
Reference  UKPC 20
Court Privy Council
Judge Lords Walker, Mance & Neuberger
Date of Judgment 3 Apr 2008
Privy Council – Professional Discipline – Appeal on Penalty – Penalty Reduced – Costs
W, a veterinary surgeon, successfully appealed against a decision of the RCVS to remove his name from the register. The Privy Council substituted a penalty of 6 months’ suspension. The RCVS opposed W’s application that it be ordered to pay the costs of the appeal.
(1) Should there be no order for costs, in accordance with principles authoritatively established in connection with disciplinary and regulatory proceedings; (2) should a split order be made in view of W’s failure on one of the points argued on appeal; (3) should costs be denied because fellow professionals of W had provided him with an appeal fund to support his appeal?
Awarding W his appeal costs: (1) The cases relied on by the RCVS – Bradford MDC v Booth (2000) 164 JP 485 (DC), R (Gorlov) v Institute of Chartered Accountants  EWHC 220 (Admin) and Baxendale-Walker v Law Society  1 WLR 426 – did not bear on the present situation, but rather on the different position of costs before disciplinary tribunals or courts dealing with a first appeal against an administrative decision; an order in W’s favour would be consistent with the Board’s costs jurisprudence; (2) the point lost was but one of a number pursued, and took hardly any time; (3) the appeal fund was irrelevant.
It seems a regulator can resist paying the costs of an unsuccessful first round in disciplinary proceedings, or a challenge to administrative action, but if further legal process follows the costs will follow the event, as usual. The appeal fund in this case was in the nature of an insurance policy, and refusal to take account of it seems consistent with general principle.
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