THE CIVIL Procedure Rules did not apply to proceedings before the Lands Tribunal. If, as a result of applying the principles of ordinary litigation to the hearing of references to determine the compensation payable on compulsory purchase, the tribunal adopted a practice of ready departure from the principle that the successful claimant was entitled to his costs in the absence of a special reason to the contrary, a change to the approach which had previously and properly been adopted in compensation reference cases would be involved.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the claimant's appeal against costs awarded to it on the determination of compensation payable following the compulsory purchase of land.
Following the compulsory acquisition of certain land from the claimant, it applied to the Lands Tribunal for a determination of the amount of compensation payable. The award sought by the claimant was pounds 12,260,000. The defendant valued the compensation at pounds 3,750,000, but made a sealed unconditional offer of pounds 5,000,000. The tribunal determined the compensation at pounds 6,660,000, and ordered the defendant to pay three-quarters of the claimant's costs.
The tribunal took as its starting point in determining the costs the proposition that the claimant had been successful and should receive its costs, but held that all the circumstances should be taken into account, including whether the claim had been exaggerated. It held that, although the Civil Procedure Rules did not apply to proceedings before it, it should have regard to those rules where applicable, in particular with regard to the award of costs.
The claimant appealed against the award of costs, contending that it was clear from section 4(1) of the Land Compensation Act 1961 that a full award of costs should be made to a claimant whose award exceeded the sum offered unless there was "special reason" not to do so; and that, even if the general principles governing the award of costs in compensation references were similar to those set out in the CPR, they should be applied in a flexible manner which reflected the nature of the particular proceedings and in particular the rationale underlying awards of compensation in respect of compulsory purchase, namely "equivalence". …