The Royal Court has ordered an unemployed islander, who unsuccessfully challenged the fairness of the co-funded payroll scheme, to pay the government £50 after the Treasury Minister tried to get him to pay £250 towards its legal fees.
As Jonathan Tindall Scott's legal challenge and subsequent appeal failed, the Minister and Attorney General then pursued him for £250 to go towards their legal fees - despite the fact he is only living on £147 a week after losing his job earlier this year.
The Government told Express that the sum of its legal fees was higher than £250, but that it had asked Mr Scott to pay the “nominal sum” to "discourage frivolous applications” from others.
Representing himself, Mr Scott brought an application to have the Court intervene in the way the payroll scheme was being administered, alleging that it was unfair, unlawful and unjust as it didn't support all islanders equally.
His main argument was that, because the scheme supports people still in work, it discriminates against those who are made redundant.
Pictured: The Treasury Minister was one of the parties to the legal challenge.
He made the point that whilst someone out of work can only claim £100 a week, someone who retains their job “can indirectly benefit by up to £1,600 per month” even if the employer is not viable or ultimately fails.
Although his challenge did not stand up, the original Royal Court Commissioner, Julian Clyde-Smith, praised Mr Scott’s efforts as being “nothing if not bold”.
Mr Scott then applied to take the case higher up the chain to an appeal court, but this was also refused.
Having successfully defended the scheme and fended off this appeal, the parties involved, Deputy Susie Pinel and Mark Temple QC, then brought an application for Mr Scott to pay £250 for their legal fees.
In a statement to Express, a Government spokesperson explained the rationale for applying for costs, saying: "It is normal for the Government to consider applying for costs in such cases, both to ensure public money is recovered where reasonable and possible, and to discourage frivolous applications.
"In this case, the costs of the Minister and Attorney General, at Royal Court and Court of Appeal level, were considerably more than £250. The Court of Appeal considered that the application to appeal was meritless and unnecessary, and the Government applied for a nominal sum of £250, with £50 being awarded by the Court.
"Some recovery of taxpayers’ costs was appropriate in these circumstances, particularly as the Royal Court had already warned Mr Scott that further unsuccessful applications could result in a costs order against him."
Pictured: Attorney General Mark Temple.
Making her decision on this application, Commissioner Clare Montgomery explained that this fee would most likely be a token fee on behalf of the Minister and Attorney General.
Explaining why the application for costs is legally valid, the judge stated: “I consider that the application for leave to appeal was demonstrably hopeless and [Mr Scott] should have understood that his claim was not sustainable from reading the judgment of the Commissioner [Clyde-Smith].
“In those circumstances I consider that this case falls into the exceptional category in which an order for costs could be made. It is clear to me that the costs involved in the Respondents considering the relatively voluminous documents filed in support of application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal will on any view have exceeded the sum of £250 applied for.”
Yet, the judge also took Mr Scott’s financial means into consideration when considering the application.
She wrote: “[Mr Scott] is unemployed living on a total of £147 per week. In the circumstances, I consider that the appropriate costs order is that he should make a modest contribution to the costs incurred by the Respondents in the appeal.”
Commissioner Montgomery therefore ordered that Mr Scott should pay £50 to the Minister of the Treasury and Resources Department and Attorney General.
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