Landmark NGO costs ruling paves way for appeals

Mathew Little

More charities will be able to mount legal challenges to government decisions following a landmark decision in the Court of Appeal.

The Government agreed last week to conduct a full public consultation about a controversial decision to change anti-bribery rules on arms exports because of a challenge by environmental NGO the Corner House.

Its decision came on the eve of a High Court judicial review which Corner House was only able to bring because the Court of Appeal had made a 'protective costs order', ensuring that even if Corner House lost it would not be liable for costs.

It is the first time that a full protective costs order has been awarded to an NGO and will create a precedent for other voluntary organisations seeking to challenge government actions. The Appeal Court will publish the reasons for its decision shortly.

Susan Hawley, policy analyst at the Corner House, commented: "We could not have afforded to take the legal action without it. This is a major breakthrough, especially for small NGOs."

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