CO/6396/2003 Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 1409 (Admin) IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION DIVISIONAL COURT Royal Courts of Justice Strand London WC2 Thursday, 20th May 2004 B E F O R E: MR JUSTICE COLLINS MR JUSTICE PITCHERS - - - - - - - HER MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY GENERAL (CLAIMANT) -v- AKENA ADOKO (DEFENDANT) - - - - - - - Computer-Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited 190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838 (Official Shorthand Writers to the Court) - - - - - - - MR S KOVATS (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the CLAIMANT The DEFENDANT did not attend and was not represented - - - - - - - J U D G M E N T (As Approved by the Court) - - - - - - - Crown copyright© 1. MR JUSTICE COLLINS: There is before the court an application by Her Majesty's Attorney General for a Civil Proceedings Order, pursuant to section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981, against Akena Adoko. That order is requested on the basis that Mr Adoko is a vexatious litigant, having habitually and persistently, and without any reasonable ground, instituted vexatious civil proceedings and made vexatious applications in civil proceedings. 2. Mr Adoko has not attended before us. We have made enquiries of the List Office and are entirely satisfied that a notice was sent on 7th April of this year to his address; that is to say, 10 Sloane House, Roland Way, London SW17 2JF. Further, we are told by Mr Kovats that on 11th May there was also sent to that address a copy of his skeleton argument which itself contained the date of this hearing. Further, the respondent himself has made an application in these proceedings, that being that he should be permitted to enter into a consent order, which he is prepared to do; the order being in the same terms as a Civil Proceedings Order would itself be in. 3. Mr Adoko has submitted a bundle of documents, including that application. Filed within that and received by the court on 6th April 2004, is a notice given to him by the court of the date upon which that application would be heard, and that is today's date. The reason why that application is noted as being received on 6th April, whereas the listing letter in the main proceedings is dated 7th April is as follows. He would have been given an immediate date for the hearing of his application when he tendered his documents on 6th April. The court, having given that date, would of course marry it up with the date of the hearing of the application by the Attorney General. That is to say, this application. Accordingly, there is no surprise at all that the formal letter notifying him of the date of these proceedings should have been sent on 7th April, the day after he received notification of the date of the hearing of his application. 4. In all those circumstances, in my view, it is apparent that he was aware of the hearing which was due to take place today and in those circumstances we are quite satisfied that it is proper for us to have continued to consider and decide upon the application made by the Attorney General. 5. Mr Adoko is now 73 years old. He is Ugandan by nationality. He was, in Uganda, president, or the equivalent of president, of the Law Society there, and was also holding some important position in the government. In any event, in 1986 he came to this country and by October 1989, having become settled in this country, he began practising law here, initially as a barrister and then working for solicitors. He had, in fact, been called to the bar and was a member of the Middle Temple. 6. In January of 1991, he decided that he wished to be admitted as a solicitor and he made an application to the Law Society to that end. He was required to sit an examination in professional conduct and accounts. This he did in 1992, but he did not pass those exams and so the Law Society decided not to admit him as a solicitor. He took proceedings in an industrial tribunal against the Law Society, asserting that the practice of exempting barristers who had practised for at least eight years in England or Wales from the relevant exams was to discriminate against such as himself, and that it amounted to indirect racial discrimination. 7. The Law Society, in those circumstances, decided in December 1995 that it would exempt Mr Adoko from having to sit those exams. However, that did not produce the result that he desired, because on 17th May 1995 the Law Society made a formal complaint to the Professional Conduct Committee of the Bar which arose out of Mr Adoko's publication of information which he had obtained on discovery in his litigation against the Law Society. It was, or should have been, apparent to any practising member of the Bar, and indeed to any solicitor, that to misuse information obtained on discovery in the way that Mr Adoko did -- which was by publishing names and details of English barristers who had been exempted from the aforementioned examinations -- was a clear breach of the requirement of professional conduct on both sides of the profession. 8. Following that, the Law Society wrote to Mr Adoko saying that it was deferring the decision whether to admit him as solicitor. On 14th February 2000 it decided not to admit him, relying on the fact that he had been found guilty in June 1997, by a disciplinary tribunal of the Inns of Court, of two charges of professional misconduct, that his appeal had been dismissed, and indeed he had applied to be voluntarily disbarred and had so been. Further, in June 1999 he had been made bankrupt on his own petition and further, he had used information obtained while working for a firm of solicitors to publish a libellous attack on an employee of a body that one of his clients had sued. As a result, he was eventually made subject to an order from the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal that no solicitor was to employ or to remunerate him. 9. However, he has in more recent years been apparently providing legal services, pursuing what he has described as a "hobby", and has instituted numerous actions against former clients and opponents. There are a total of some 27 actions that have been taken by him over a period of about 10 years since 1993. Ten have been against the Law Society -- three of which were against the Office of the Supervision of Solicitors -- and two have been taken against the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. He has also issued libel proceedings against counsel and solicitors who acted for the Law Society, and a further action against an internet service provider because, following notification that the contents were libellous, it withdrew an attack which Mr Adoko had placed on the internet against the solicitor who had acted for the Law Society in the course of his litigation. 10. Further, he has brought claims against the Lord Chancellor's Department, alleging judicial corruption. Essentially he has asserted that the decisions made against him were only made because the judges who decided against him were corrupt. Perhaps the flavour of the type of litigation, and the allegations that he has seen fit to make, can be gleaned from a statement of claim which he served in his action against the Lord Chancellor. I quote from that statement of claim which is in claim number HQ 0100883 of February 2001. He says: "In 1994 the claimant obtained judgment against the Law Society from the employment tribunal. The court ordered that the Law Society had refused to exempt the claimant to practice law as a solicitor on racial grounds. As a result of that case, the Law Society resorted to the worst form of racial victimisation of the claimant for having exposed its racial discrimination policy in practice. One such discrimination was to pretend that it had stopped exemption of English barristers to become solicitors . . . In order to prevent the claimant from being admitted as a solicitor, and to prevent him from practising law as a solicitor, the Law Society -- (1) resorted to persuading judges orally and by secret letters, and by other means, to give illegal and fraudulent judgments in order to prevent the claimant from ever being admitted as a solicitor and from ever practising law as a solicitor; (2) the Law Society's main weapon of persuasion was the black colour of the claimant. They induced eight judges to believe that because the claimant was black, the judges could act fraudulently towards him and get away with it; (3) ultimately the officials of the defendant were induced to believe that they too could act fraudulently towards the claimant and get away with it. The eight judges ranged from the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, through four High Court judges, one circuit judge, and two chairmen of industrial tribunals. 11. Those sorts of wild allegations have been a feature of the activities of the respondent. He has also brought six further libel actions against former clients or opponents, and the most recent claim has been against a health insurance company for not making clear the terms of its policy. The distinction to be drawn in relation to that latest action is that it does not, on the face of it, follow the pattern of the former ones which either stem from his dispute with the Law Society or out of an attempt to take proceedings against former clients, or those with whom he had involved himself in litigation. It is, I think, unnecessary to go into any further detail beyond saying this. The initial claim against the Law Society was successful to this extent, that it was accepted that there was indirect discrimination. However, Mr Adoko, notwithstanding that that had been conceded, insisted on continuing the proceedings, alleging direct discrimination and an intention to discriminate. Not surprisingly, that was dismissed. 12. His further ploys were to take defamation proceedings against those who had appeared against him, or who had made any observations in the course of the proceedings which suggested that he had in any way behaved in a fashion which merited any adverse action being taken against him. He was also involved, because of his activities in supporting litigation by others, in proceedings with a Dr Pal. In due course he turned against Dr Pal and those proceedings were initially struck out by Master Eyre. On appeal to Hooper J, those strike outs were set aside because the learned judge was persuaded that the basis of the strike out was wrong, so there was an interlocutory success to that extent. However, Hooper J then went on to consider the matter on a more general basis and whether the claim should have been struck out. 13. In a judgment dated 19th January 2004, he decided that the actions, two of them in relation to Dr Pal and the third in relation to another doctor, should be struck out. What he said in paragraph 84 of that judgment was this: "I further strike out both actions in so far as Dr Pal is concerned because the statement of case is an abuse of the court's process. Mr Adoko accepts that prior to 13th December, the date of the first of the two alleged defamatory statements, he had already sent emails describing Dr Pal as like Hitler, Amin and Mussolini rolled into one. Dr Pal described the emails, copied to another person and others, understandably, as harassing and so troublesome that she reported if the matter to the police. Thereafter he has vilified Dr Pal . . . in other respects. He is now clear that his aim in bringing these proceedings is 'to enable a British jury to decide whether she is a murderess and perjurer, as I hold and maintain she is, or not.' To attack a person in the way that Dr Adoko has attacked Dr Pal and then used the courts to seek redress for what, by comparison, is a much less serious allegation than those being made by Dr Adoko against Dr Pal is, in my view, such an abuse of the process of the court on the facts of this case that the actions must be struck out. The fact that Dr Pal has used language about Dr Adoko which may well also be intemperate does not alter my conclusions." Indeed, although, as I have said, there were from time to time some apparent interlocutory successes, all the actions, in due course, have been struck out or have been discontinued on the court indicating that there was no conceivable merit in any of them. 14. In all those circumstances, I have no doubt whatever that the respondent has acted in a way which is covered by section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981. We have to look at the entirety of the matter and look at what he has done, and I bear in mind, of course, that the court has to be satisfied that he has habitually and persistently, without any reasonable ground, instituted vexatious civil proceedings. There is no doubt that there has been the appropriate degree of persistence in what he has done. The only twist -- and it is appropriate to regard it as such in this case -- is that in December 2003 the Treasury Solicitor, acting on behalf of the Attorney General, wrote to the respondent stating as follows: "I confirm that this matter may be resolved if you are prepared to offer the court an undertaking in the following terms: 'I, Dr Akena Adoko, undertake not to issue civil proceedings in any court without the leave of the High Court. I further undertake not to continue any civil proceedings instituted by me in any court without the leave of the High Court. No application other than an application for leave to the High Court shall, without the leave of the High Court, be made by me in any civil proceedings instituted by me in any court.'" That, as I have said earlier, reflects the order that the court would make if satisfied that it was right to make an order under section 42. 15. The respondent agreed to enter into such an undertaking, and indeed it is his application, as I have already said, that a consent order in those terms should be made by the court. However, when the court was informed of the undertaking, the view was taken by Master Venne, on consideration, that an undertaking was not an appropriate way to proceed in these proceedings. I am bound to say that I take the view that, as a general approach, Master Venne is correct. The effect of an undertaking is more onerous, so far as the respondent is concerned, than an order under section 42, because the mere attempt to institute proceedings without seeking leave would constitute a breach of the undertaking and so amount to a contempt of court, which would carry the penalties appropriate to such a contempt. An order under section 42 does not contain a similar penal provision. 16. Further, those who have been declared to be vexatious litigants, and in respect of whom orders have been made under section 42, are listed. That list is available for any court to inspect, and thus to have knowledge of who are vexatious litigants so that any such person who attempts to institute proceedings can immediately be identified. There is no such list available to deal with those who give undertakings such as are suggested in this case. I appreciate that it would be possible for the court to order that a person who gives an undertaking should be placed on such a list, but that is not what has been sought by way of consent. Nor have the effects of giving an undertaking rather than an order being made been drawn to the respondent's attention. Further, the giving of an undertaking in no way constitutes an admission that he has been a vexatious litigant. It is, or may be, important that the court makes a positive finding to that effect, as the court is doing in this case, so that it is known that he is indeed someone who is properly to be categorised, as a result of a court decision, as a vexatious litigant. 17. I am, for my part, not prepared to go as far as to say that an undertaking in lieu of a finding under section 42 could never be appropriate, but it seems to me that the circumstances in which such an undertaking would be appropriate must be very carefully considered. It is likely to be inappropriate in many, if not most, cases of this nature. In all those circumstances, I am entirely satisfied that the Attorney General's claim is made out and that the court should make the order in the terms that he seeks. 18. MR JUSTICE PITCHERS: I agree both as to the right order in this case and also in relation to the more general comments that my Lord has made in relation to undertakings in cases such as this. 19. MR KOVATS: I am grateful, my Lords. 20. MR JUSTICE COLLINS: Thank you.
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