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Ex-servicemen: Radiation Exposure

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what legal costs have been incurred by his Department in the case of the nuclear test veterans (a) since the start of the litigation, (b) since 6 February 2009, (c) in relation to the appeal alone and (d) for barristers' fees. (302180)

The legal costs incurred in the case of the nuclear test veterans are as follows:


(a) Total since the start of the litigation


(b) Since 6 February 2009


(c) In relation to the appeal alone


(d) Barristers' fees alone


These are the actual costs as invoiced to 27 November 2009.

In addition, the High Court ordered the Department to make an interim payment of £7,500,000 on account of costs to the claimants' legal representatives Rosenblatt Solicitors although the Ministry of Defence was given leave to appeal the High Court judgment.

At the conclusion of his judgment Mr. Justice Foskett said:

“The Government is, of course, pledged to settle legal cases by alternative dispute resolution in all suitable cases whenever the other party agrees to it. In my view, this is such a case.”

The Ministry of Defence has adhered to the judge's wish but, unfortunately, I cannot reveal the contents of the negotiations because this would breach the confidentiality agreement between the parties. However, I can say that genuine negotiations have taken place between the parties respective counsels and a settlement proposal was made by the Ministry of Defence, although I cannot disclose the amount. To date, no response has been received from the claimants' counsel or the law firm representing them (Rosenblatts). This is obviously disappointing, but we remain open to meaningful discussions. In the meantime, we have been left with no option but to proceed with our appeal for which the High Court judge has given us permission. I understand the appeal is listed for a three week window starting on 4 May 2010.