Skoczylas v The Minister for Finance

CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Alexander Owens
Judgment Date17 January 2023
Neutral Citation[2023] IEHC 33
Docket Number[2021 No. 341 MCA]

In the Matter of Irish Life and Permanent Group Holdings Plc and in the Matter of Irish Life and Permanent Plc and

In the Matter of an Application for the Setting Aside Pursuant to Section 11 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 of the Direction Order Which Was Made on the 26th July 2011 Pursuant to Section 9 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 and Ancillary Orders

Gerald Dowling, Padraig McManus, Piotr Skoczylas and Scotchstone Capital Fund Limited
The Minister for Finance


Permanent TSB Group Holdings and Permanent TSB Plc
Notice Parties

[2023] IEHC 33

[2021 No. 341 MCA]


JUDGMENT of The Hon. Mr. Justice Alexander Owens delivered on the 17th day of January 2023.


This is a review of a determination of the Legal Costs Adjudicator relating to party and party costs awards in this litigation. The matter to be decided is whether Piotr Skoczylas is entitled to recover amounts claimed for what are described in 26 invoices submitted to the Legal Costs Adjudicator as “professional research and advisory / consulting and related services; i.e. non-legal litigation services and advice / consulting in relation to the proceedings before the High Court…” The Legal Costs adjudicator disallowed these claims.


The core issue is whether Mr Skoczylas has provided through the medium of his English limited liability partnership services which are capable of giving rise to a valid claim for allowance or reimbursement on foot of party and party costs orders which allowed him outlay.


This Court has examined each of the disputed invoices. They contain explanations of work claimed to have been done. They claim fees for “professional” “non-legal” input which assisted Mr Skoczylas in formulating and presenting his legal claim. The invoices do not indicate what the nature of the advice and consultancy was or what professional expertise was deployed or why it was needed. Examination of these aspects would become relevant if services of the type invoiced were in principle capable of being recoverable as outlay on foot of an order for party and party costs.


This Court has no difficulty with the general proposition that party and party costs can be recovered for time taken on preparing and giving expert evidence supplied by a litigant or via a litigant's business partnership or employee where such claims would be allowed if that service was provided by an independent professional.


However, the law does not allow a litigant to recover any value for the type of services set out in the invoices produced by Mr Skoczylas on foot of an award of party and party costs or expenses. The indemnity which the law provides on foot of an order for party and party costs is not a full indemnity.


The submission that litigants in person who are awarded costs may recover for use of academic or professional qualifications, expertise and know-how in preparation and presentation of their legal cases is misconceived.


If Mr Skoczylas availed of legal representation, he would not be entitled to recover party and party costs for any value of services billed in these invoices. The amount recoverable would be limited to costs of legal representation. Any increase in a claim for remuneration or reimbursement for value of any in-house non-legal expertise or know-how of solicitors and barristers instructed would not be recoverable.


If the expertise claimed for was bought in by the solicitors from Mr Skoczylas or from his partnership, or from independent providers the cost would not be recoverable either. Value of know-how of a litigant or of any consultant commissioned or deployed in providing services of the type charged for in these invoices is not recoverable as party and party costs.


Litigants who have resources to buy in this type of assistance must bear the expense themselves. Litigants who provide their own know-how and skill are not entitled to recover value for use of their expertise on foot of an award of party and party costs or expenses. The law does not bestow such advantages on well-educated litigants. Their use of qualifications and talents to research their cases and instruct themselves or their solicitors goes unrewarded.


In any legal proceedings there are two ways in which a litigant may participate. A litigant may adduce evidence and provide proof. A litigant may prepare and present the case. Preparation and presentation of the case involves the legal aspect. Value of expertise and exercise of professional skill used in litigation can only be allowed on an adjudication of party and party costs if it has a direct bearing one or other of these aspects of participation.


The expertise provided must be of a type which the law is prepared to recognise as generating a valid claim for recoverable outlay.


A suitably qualified litigant may use expertise to prepare and give expert proof. That litigant may recover remuneration for such expert input on foot of an award of costs.


A litigant who has access to expertise, qualifications, or know-how of whatever sort is not entitled to recover for use of these advantages in researching, preparing and presenting the case.


The only exception to this rule allows recovery of party and party costs for engagement of licensed professional lawyers to prepare and present a case. Solicitor litigants and their partners are also entitled to recover some professional fees for work done on their own cases.


Tribunals in other jurisdictions have allowed fees to non-practicing legal professionals for representing themselves as party and party costs in some types of proceedings: see ( [2016] 1 WLR 4506 R (Bar Standards Board) v. Disciplinary Tribunal of the Council of the Inns of Court [2016] EWCA Civ. 478). This Court expresses no view on whether this reasoning should be followed in this jurisdiction.


In light of this conclusion it is not necessary for this Court to express a final view on other matters canvassed in argument before the Legal Costs Adjudicator and before this Court.


As Mr Skoczylas has not demonstrated that the Legal Costs Adjudicator has erred in disallowing the amounts claimed on foot of the disputed invoices, this Court must confirm the determination relating to those disallowances, as required by s.161(4)(a) of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 (the 2015 Act).


Some of the history of this litigation is summarised paras. 4 to 6 of the judgment of O'Donnell J. in Permanent TSB PLC and others v. Skoczylas and others [2019] IESC 78.


This Court has been provided with a copy of the case file for the reference to the European Court of Justice. This contains copies of some of the affidavits and exhibits referred to in the invoices. This file also includes transcripts of the hearing before the High Court which took place over 15 days in early 2014. Most of the evidential material submitted by the applicants for this hearing is contained in affidavits sworn by Mr Skoczylas and in exhibits to those affidavits.


Other proceedings which are not included in this case file related to procedural steps in this litigation. Some of the disputed invoices refer to these steps.


Mr Skoczylas held senior positions in banking for a number of years. He holds an MBA and other postgraduate academic awards in subjects relating to finance. Mr Skoczylas was one of the applicants in this litigation. He represented himself before the courts.


Mr Skoczylas and a business entity which he controlled invested in shares in Irish Life and Permanent Group Holdings PLC. This publicly quoted company was the holding company in the “Irish Life and Permanent” group. PTSB Bank was the banking arm of the group. Irish Life was the insurance arm of the group.


In 2011 this bank was in severe financial difficulty. It continued in business in the short term because of a State guarantee to depositors. Regulatory authorities decided that a very substantial injection of capital was required.


A proposal was made to put capital into the bank through State investment in the group. Irish Life and Permanent Group Holdings PLC did not agree to this proposal. A counter-proposal was not acceptable to the Minister for Finance. This impasse was broken by exercise by the Minister of powers to obtain court-ordered directions to restructure the capital base of the group under the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 (the 2010 Act).


The directions affected rights of existing shareholders in Irish Life and Permanent Holdings PLC. The value of their shares had collapsed with the fortunes of the bank. This element in the recapitalisation took the form of a share issue which gave the Minister a controlling stake of over 99% in Irish Life and Permanent Group Holdings PLC.


These steps led to a recapitalisation of PTSB Bank by introduction of €2.3 billion in State funds into the group and an eventual disposal of Irish Life for €1.3 billion. That money was also used to meet capital requirements of the bank.


Mr. Skoczylas and others challenged the validity of this process. He asserted that the recapitalisation was disproportionate and should have been structured in a manner which did not involve this dilution of existing shareholder interests. He claimed that the directions were invalid and that the scheme contravened EU law.


Most of these claims were rejected by the High Court in 2014. The outstanding issue identified at the conclusion of the initial High Court hearing was whether the scheme was compatible with Council Directive 77/91/EEC of 13 December 1976.


Following the reference to the European Court of Justice, this challenge to the validity of the scheme on foot of the directions also failed. An appeal from the decision of the High Court was dismissed.


On 23 March 2012 the High Court awarded Mr Skoczylas...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT