King Charles Street
Tel: 020 7008 3054
12 May 2015
Dear Mr Donnelly, Your Freedom Of Information Request: 0117-15
Thank you for your request for information which we received on 4 February 2015. In your
request you asked:
Since 1999, what has been the total cost to the Government of legal action opposing
Chagossians' right to return to the Chagos Islands and defending the legality of
Orders-in-Council issued in 2004 which prevented unauthorised entry into the British
Indian Ocean Territory?
Please include a breakdown of all costs associated with different legal actions,
defences and appeals including (but not limited to) the High Court case in the year
2000, the 2006 High Court case which overturned the 2004 Orders-in-Council, the
2008 Court of Appeal case which upheld the 2006 High Court decision, the 2008
appeal to the House of Lords Judicial Committee and the European Court of Human
Rights case which concluded in 2012 in favour of the UK Government.
To be clear, please also include the legal aid costs associated with the above cases
and any other legal action the Government has taken on these issues.
Please adjust these figures for inflation.
I can confirm that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does hold information detailing the
total costs charged to the Foreign and Commonwealth Department by the Treasury
Solicitors’ Department in respect of legal services provided in defending legal actions
brought against the FCO relating to the British Indian Ocean Territory falling within the terms
of your request. These costs include Counsels’ fees and other disbursements. These costs
do not include any FCO staff costs. The costs are the total costs of defending the claim, and
are not broken down by each stage of the court process (e.g. High Court, Court of Appeal,
Supreme Court).These are the costs as charged to the FCO; we do not hold the information
in a format adjusted for inflation. We also do not hold information about the legal aid costs
incurred in these claims. That information is held by the Legal Aid Authority.
Please find attached the information that the FCO can release to you. Some of the
information has been withheld using section 42– legal professional privilege. Section 42 is a
qualified exemption and subject to a public interest test. We have considered the arguments
in favour of disclosing this information, that there is a public interest in favour of transparency
in the use of public funds. We have also considered the public interest in favour of
withholding this information. Legal professional privilege is an important principle that
safeguards openness in all communications between client and lawyer to ensure access to
full and frank legal advice, which in turn is fundamental to the administration of justice. We
consider that the arguments favour withholding the information.
High Court cases (and onward appeals):
R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, (No 1) –
Chagos Islanders v The Attorney General & Her Majesty’s British Indian Ocean
Territory Commissioner - £762,400.85
R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, (No 2) -
R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No. 3) -
Supreme Court application:
Application by Mr Bancoult to the Supreme Court to set aside the House of Lords
judgment in Bancoult (No2) on the grounds of the alleged breach of the duty of
candour by the FCO and TSol - £4,911.82
Tribunal claim (freedom of information):
Chagos Refugee Group v Information Commissioner & FCO- £54,633.85
European Court of Human Rights: Chagos Islanders v UK case – £37,747.40
The Claimant in Bancoult (3) has applied for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
That case and the application to set aside the House of Lords judgment in Bancoult (2) have
yet to be determined. Apart from Bancoult (1), the FCO successfully defended the High
Court and ECHR cases listed above. With respect to the Tribunal claim, the FCO was
directed to disclose two further documents, but the Tribunal found in favour of the FCO on
the significant points of principle.
Once an FOI request is answered, it is considered to be in the public domain. To promote
transparency, we may now publish the response and any material released on gov.uk
in the FOI releases
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write to the FOI and DPA Team, King Charles Street, Room K4.14, London, SW1A 2AH. E-
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The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Please contact me if you have any queries about this letter.
Lowri Mai Griffiths
Assistant Legal Adviser
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