In Roberts v A Professional Committee of the Nursing Council of New Zealand  NZCA 141 a nurse had pleaded guilty to having sex with a vulnerable patient. He had been suspended from nursing for three years. The High Court upheld his appeal and reduced his period of suspension to 18 months, precisely as he had requested. It dismissed the cross-appeal, which contended that he should have been deregistered. He sought costs. He got costs of the cross-appeal, fixed at 25% of the costs of the appeal because it had been doomed to fail and should never have been brought. But he failed in his claim for costs of his own appeal though he had obtained in it precisely what he had sought.
Why? Because there were no ‘compelling reasons’ justifying such an order. The High Court noted that unlike disciplinary cases against lawyers, where first instance decision makers were empowered to make orders for and against the legal regulator, costs orders could be made only in favour of the nurses’ disciplinarian. The first-instance immunity to costs of nurses, and the important public function of the maintenance of standards in the provision of healthcare caused the High Court to carve out of quite a prescriptive costs regime in the High Court rules, one of the policies of which is apparently to make costs decisions predictable, a ‘compelling reasons’ threshold. So he did not get costs of his own appeal. He appealed again, on costs. The Court of Appeal allowed his appeal, and found there was no ‘compelling reasons’ threshold to be overcome before costs could be awarded against disciplinary regulators. The judges unanimously said: Continue reading “NZCA stomps on attempt to limit costs against disciplinary bodies”