Townsend v Dickinson [2017] NZFC 7307

Published 15 May 2018

Application for costs — indemnity costs — Family Court Rules 2002, r 207 — Care of Children Act 2004 — District Court Rules 2014, r 14.6 — Prebble v Awatere Huata (No 2) [2005] 2 NZLR 467. The respondent mother was seeking costs against the applicant father following proceedings related to contact between the father and one of the parties' children, in which the father had unsuccessfully sought to invoke enforcement provisions of the Care of Children Act. In determining costs, the court had reference to factors including the outcome of proceedings, the complexity, how the case was conducted by the parties and their legal advisors, whether proceedings were made unnecessarily complex, the parties' means and actual costs, the overall interests of justice and any potential impact of the award of costs on the children. In assessing whether full costs should be awarded, the court found that the father had not been able to show a breach of the parenting orders by the mother and that she was unable to force the contact desired by the father. The court found that in light of the clear wording of the final parenting order, the father's application was manifestly doomed to failure. The court awarded partial costs to the mother, finding that although bringing proceedings that would inevitably fail, the father's actions did not meet the high level set out in District Court Rule 14.6 for full costs to be awarded to the mother. Noting the high level of mistrust, dysfunction and conflict in the case that required both parties to retain experienced counsel, the court awarded costs on a 2B basis. Judgment Date: 5 October 2017. * * * Note: Names have been changed to comply with legal requirements * * *