Security for Costs

Sometimes a respondent to a case is face with a real possibility of having to respond to an application that does not have much merit and may have been made more in continuation of the emotional trauma between the parties. In effect the applicant can try to use financial muscle to grind down the respondent.

Can the court use any powers to help the respondent?

The answer is by granting “security for costs” in a comparatively little known power contained in rules 20.6 and 20.7 of the Family Procedure Rules. The recent case of MG v AR 2021 is just about the only reported example of its use.

In granting an order under FPR 20.6 the court will specify the amount how and when the security must be given.

The order can be made if it is “just” to do so (presumably the court never makes an order that it thinks is “unjust”!!); and

(a) the applicant is resident out of the jurisdiction; or

(b) the applicant has changed address since the application was started with a view to evading the consequences of the litigation; or

(c) the applicant failed to give an address in the application form, or gave an incorrect address in that form; or

(d) the applicant has taken steps in relation to the applicant's assets that would make it difficult to enforce an order for costs against the applicant.

Situations (b) and (c) arise more frequently than might be thought and (d) is open to interpretation. It will be interesting to see whether there is now increased use of this power now that a light has been shone on it.

Joanna Gardner is an Associate in the Family Law Department at SME Solicitors. Please contact her, Denise McCabe or Ian Stirzaker for specialist help and advice in all aspects of family law at or or



Added: 04 Apr 2022 11:06

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