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Where the rules provide, discretion must abide: Friar Tuck Ltd. et al v International Tax Authority

In the recent decision of (1) Friar Tuck Ltd. (2) Quiver Inc. v International Tax Authority, the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court made clear that the discretion of a Judge can only reach so far when the scope of the judge’s jurisdiction is clearly defined by the Civil Procedure Rules 2000 (as amended).

The underlying claim was one in judicial review, challenging an improperly issued Tax Information Exchange Agreement (also commonly known as TIEA) Request. The Appellants were successful in the claim and were awarded their costs assessed but on the restrictive prescribed basis rather than on the standard basis of costs. The Appellant challenged the basis of assessment. Michel JA ruled that while the Judge has discretion to determine costs liability, the Judge has no discretion in judicial review cases to determine the regime for quantifying costs. The applicable regime should be the standard basis of assessing costs. The Court clearly stated that it was “not open to the Judge to assimilate the prescribed and assessed costs regimes in as much as the CPR mandates that the costs in judicial review proceedings be assessed”.

Successful judicial review claimants can now be assured that their costs will be assessed on a just and proportionate basis. More importantly, the costs consequences for a public body or servant is likely to focus minds when exercising executive functions and when deciding whether to resist a well-founded claim.

Harneys acted for the successful Appellants.

Where the rules provide, discretion must abide: Friar Tuck Ltd. et al v International Tax Authority

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