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Costs of same sex marriage legal battle still being calculated

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The Government said that litigation continued over costs for the Privy Council same sex marriage case (File photograph)

Costs payable by campaigners who lost a legal battle to retain the right for same-sex couples to marry have still to be confirmed, a government spokesman said.

He added that the litigation was “not yet concluded”.

A Privy Council ruling in March found that a clause in the Domestic Partnership Act, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, was not unconstitutional.

An order to parties later said that the respondents – Roderick Ferguson and others – “should be liable” to the appellant – the Attorney-General for Bermuda – for costs before the island’s highest court of appeal.

Each side was told it was responsible for its own costs in the “courts below”, which were the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.

The Privy Council of the United Kingdom (File photograph)

Figures provided earlier this year showed government legal costs related to the case totalled $413,362.50 in payments to outside lawyers and law firms. But the full breakdown of amounts apportioned to each court could not be provided.

It was unknown last week if the respondents would be expected to pay any costs at all to the Government.

A Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman said this month: “The litigation has not concluded.

“As such, the total costs have not changed, and there is no further information to provide.”

He added later: "The quantum of costs payable by the respondents is still outstanding. Thus the matter is not yet concluded.“

This legal aspect of the battle for same-sex couples to be able to marry started in February 2018 after the Domestic Partnership Act received the Governor’s assent.

Mr Ferguson launched a legal action against the clause that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The case went through the lower courts before it reached the Privy Council, where a panel was split four to one, with the majority finding that the law was not unconstitutional.

Mr Ferguson declined to comment for this article and OutBermuda, an LGBTQ rights charity and the second respondent in the case, said it had “no comment at this time”.

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Published October 31, 2022 at 7:40 am (Updated October 31, 2022 at 7:40 am)

Costs of same sex marriage legal battle still being calculated

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