Bunzl: Government is trying to price us out

If you have a bottomless pit of money, you can break the law with impunity by making it too expensive for people to go to Court. We increasingly see conduct with that flavour from this Government – but nothing quite like this: Government has estimated it will spend a staggering £1.2 million defending a challenge from Good Law Project. We only expect the hearing to take one day and the facts are simple. When the case was stayed, the costs were about £30,000. They repeatedly refused to give us the estimates of their costs so we could apply for a cap. Then, they told us they had spent over £600,000 and were continuing to spend.

Our lawyers tell us it’s an unprecedented sum. The evidence is that costs incurred by the Government in judicial review proceedings rarely exceed £100,000. We are a small non-profit, funded by donations from members of the public. We cannot carry this kind of  risk, a fact the Government well knows. We can’t help but wonder whether killing us, or dissuading us from using the law, is the point of their spending. We have now applied for a cap but are on the hook for a vast sum if we don’t get one.

This particular case involves a former Conservative politician who runs for a lobbying company who was brought into the Department of Health and Social Care as an advisor, and pushed for one of his lobbying clients to win a huge PPE contract.

This latest example of the Government’s attempts to price us out of litigation shows just what we are up against in 2022. They are trying to make this the year the Empire strikes back. 

But we’re still here, and as long as we have the support of thousands of people up and down the country, we will keep going. 


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