To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, how much the Government spent on legal fees in the case of Moore and Coates v the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in which ruling was made on 21 January 2015.
Planning casework is a quasi-judicial function of the Department, and as was the case under the last Administration, it attracts a high volume of legal challenges which end up in the courts. This is particularly the case in light of the long-term growth of judicial review and the growing creep of European Union directives, regulations and case law; equality law and human rights law.
Costs to date in these two claims are £68,825 excluding VAT.
The Government makes no apologies for seeking to safeguard Green Belt protection and trying to bring a sense of fair play to the planning system. The Government’s planning policy is clear that both temporary and permanent traveller sites are inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The judgment does not question that principle.
Indeed, there have been a number of recent legal cases where the planning appeal decisions of the Secretary of State have succeeded in relation to traveller development in the Green Belt and awarded costs in favour of DCLG, including:
Hence, any payment of costs in Moore vs Coates needs to be seen in this context as my Department has successfully defended the eight claims above and costs are due to my Department.
To place the Department’s spending in context more broadly, I would observe that the Department spent £1.7 million in external lawyers’ fees in 2009-10 (excluding Treasury Solicitors), in 2013-14, the figure had fallen to £699,000.