A nurse has been left with lawyers' bills of nearly £20,000 despite winning the latest round of a court fight with council bosses over the care or her child.
Three Court of Appeal judges have ruled that a family court judge was wrong to conclude that the woman's five-year-old daughter should be removed from her care.
They say the case should be re-heard.
But the woman has failed to persuade appeal judges to order Southampton City Council bosses to pick up the tab for the money she spent on lawyers when mounting the appeal.
Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson said they had "considerable sympathy" with the woman, who was not eligible for legal aid and had run up bills approaching £20,000.
But they said it was "not possible" to conclude that council bosses had been "unreasonable" in opposing the woman's appeal.
Judge Edward Hess had ruled that the woman could not care for her daughter in June 2017 following a family court hearing in Southampton.
Appeal judges have outlined their thoughts in a ruling after analysing the case at a Court of Appeal hearing in London in January.
They have not identified the woman or her daughter.
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