Council recover legal costs for schools court case

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Legal fees incurred by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in a court case over island schools have been recovered from the Scottish Government.

The council will receive £72,000 to cover the cost of legally challenging a decision by the Education Minister not to allow the closure of Carloway and Shelibost Primary Schools and the S1/2 unit at Shawbost School.

The Comhairle were successful in a Judicial Review and they were given permission to close the schools but this decision was also the subject of an appeal by the Government. This appeal was unsuccessful and the schools have since been closed, but the issue of expenses has been ongoing since May 2013.

A Scottish Government spokesman said this week: “It was the decision of the Court to award costs in this case to Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar and these costs have been paid.”

The Comhairle will receive £27,000 each in respect of the Carloway and Shawbost accounts, and £18,000 in respect of the Seilebost account, a total figure of £72,000. 

Catriona Stewart, Chair of Education and Children’s Services, said: “The outcome of the judicial review confirmed that the Comhairle treated all communities fairly in its schools consultation process and that the Comhairle acted in accordance with the Government’s Schools (Consultation) Act 2010. It also demonstrated that the consultation process was rigorous, open, transparent and fair.”

She added: “I am pleased that agreement has now been reached on expenses. Settlement at this level means that the Comhairle has recovered over 80 per cent of expenses due, in excess of the normal expectation of two-thirds or three-quarters recovery of expenses.”