IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICECO/0990/00
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
CROWN OFFICE LIST
Royal Courts of Justice
Thursday 13th July 2000
B e f o r e:
LORD JUSTICE LAWS
MRS JUSTICE RAFFERTY
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(Computer Aided Transcript of Smith Bernal Reporting Limited,
190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2AG
Telephone No: 020 7421 4040 Fax No: 020 7404 1424
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
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MR W HOSKINS (instructed by Treasury Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the Appellant
MR A AMIN (the respondent) appeared in person
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J U D G M E N T
(As Approved by the Court)
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1. LORD JUSTICE LAWS: Her Majesty’s Attorney-General applies for a civil proceedings order under section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981. That section provides, subsection (1):
“If, on an application made by the Attorney General under this section, the High Court is satisfied that any person has habitually and persistently and without any reasonable ground-
(a) instituted vexatious civil proceedings, whether in the High Court or any inferior court, and whether against the same person or against different persons; or
(b) made vexatious applications in any civil proceedings, whether in the High Court or any inferior court, and whether instituted by him or another; or
(c) instituted vexatious prosecutions (whether against the same person or different persons),
the court may, after hearing that person or giving him an opportunity of being heard, make a civil proceedings order, a criminal proceedings order or an all proceedings order.”
2. Subsection (1A):
“In this section- ‘civil proceedings order’ means an order that-
(a) no civil proceedings shall without the leave of the High Court be instituted in any court by the person against whom the order is made;
(b) any civil proceedings instituted by him in any court before the making of the order shall not be continued by him without the leave of the High Court; and
(c) no application (other than one for leave under this section) shall be made by him, in any civil proceedings instituted in any court by any person, without the leave of the High Court;
‘criminal proceedings order’ means an order that-
(a) no information shall be laid before a justice of the peace by the person against whom the order is made without the leave of the High Court;
(b) no application for leave to prefer a bill of indictment shall be made by him without the leave of the High Court; and
‘all proceedings order’ means an order which has the combined effect of the two other orders.”
3. Subsection (2):
“An order under subsection (1) may provide that it is to cease to have effect at the end of a specified period, but shall otherwise remain in force indefinitely.”
4. Subsection (3):
“Leave for the institution or continuance of, or for the making of an application in, any Civil proceedings by a person who is the subject of an order for the time being in force under subsection (1) shall not be given unless the High Court is satisfied that the proceedings or application are not an abuse of the process of the court in question and that there are reasonable grounds for the proceedings or application.”
5. Subsection (4):
“No appeal shall lie from a decision of the High Court refusing leave required by virtue of this section.”
6. The application before us was originally for an All Proceedings Order. Now the application for a Civil Proceedings Order only is persisted in, in circumstances which I will explain. We have before us a witness statement from Mr Lutterodt of the Treasury Solicitor’s Department, a skeleton argument from Mr Hoskins (counsel for the Attorney) and a schedule of litigation exhibited by Mr Lutterodt. In the account which follows I will draw heavily on Mr Lutterodt’s statement which is extremely helpful and, as cross-references to the primary documentation show, very reliable - although the respondent, Mr Amin, would by no means accept as much.
7. Mr Lutterodt describes two sets of proceedings in which the respondent has been involved. The first series ultimately arose from a tenancy of the Porter’s Flat, Alexandra Court, Maida Vale, London W9. That tenancy was granted by an agreement made between David Sanaei and the respondent on 19th March 1990, although the respondent says that Mr Sanaei was not in fact his landlord; he says the landlord was a company Arad Limited, to which I will refer in a moment. In fact, the particulars of claim in a county court action issued by the respondent include the words:
“Mr Drew has acted on behalf of my landlord Sanaei”.
8. The assertion that he was not the landlord at all in the light of that seems to me a little difficult.
9. This first series of litigation is referred to by Mr Lutterodt as the “Alexandra Court litigation”. At some stage the flat in question became known as 14A Alexandra Court. Disputes between Mr Sanaei and the respondent started at an early stage of the tenancy and over the years which followed the respondent has litigated against a wide variety of people, sometimes by way of counterclaim, in order to pursue his various grievances.
10. The second series of proceedings arose over the respondent’s summary dismissal from his employment at the Jubilee Sports Centre and his attempts to secure a determination by the court of the facts of the incident which gave rise to his dismissal. That series of cases is referred to by Mr Lutterodt as the “Sports Centre litigation”.
11. In relation to the Alexandra Court litigation by way of introduction Mr Lutterodt refers to a number of limited companies which feature in the course of the cases which form that series. He puts it as follows. The companies are:
12. (a) Arad Limited, the original head lessee of Alexadra Court, which became Mr Sanaei’s immediate landlord under the tenancy agreement;
13. (b) Rola Properties Limited, a company to which Arad Limited subsequently granted an underlease of the flat, subject to the respondent’s tenancy.
14. I should say that the respondent has submitted that this underlease was unlawful as being forbidden by the terms of the head lease. He showed us a provision in the head lease upon which he relies. The assertion which he put forward as to the illegality of the underlease seems to me to be a misconception.
15. (c) Alexandra Lanark Limited, a non-profit company owned by the leaseholders of Alexandra Court and another building known as Lanark Mansions, which was intended to manage the buildings and successfully acquired the headlease [of Alexandra Court] in August 1991 and then the freehold in February 1992;
16. (d) Southcombe & Hayley, a firm of solicitors who acted for Mr Sanaei.
17. I proceed then to describe the various sets of proceedings which feature in the case. These are set out serially by Mr Lutterodt under reference numbers RL1- RL19 inclusive and I will use the same numbering.
18. RL1 was an action issued by Mr Sanaei against the respondent in the Bloomsbury County Court on 15th November 1990. It was a claim for possession of the flat in Maida Vale at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy and for arrears of rent. Mr Sanaei was represented by Southcombe & Hayley. The action was contested by the respondent. He put forward a counterclaim in which he complained of harassment by unknown men at Mr Sanaei’s behest, and also of problems with the flat itself which allegedly prevented him from using the kitchen and bathroom. In July 1992, as this action was proceeding, Rola Properties Limited was by consent substituted as plaintiff because it had acquired the interest of the respondent’s immediate landlord, apparently when Arad had granted Rola the underlease to which I have referred. However, the action was finally disposed of on 29th October 1992 when the claim was struck out and the respondent was permitted to withdraw his counterclaim. Mr Lutterodt observes that it appears that this may have been because the respondent had by then brought other proceedings in respect of the matters of which complaint was made in the counterclaim. That may well be right. I should say that Mr Hoskins for the Attorney does not assert that anything done by the respondent in action RL1 was itself vexatious. RL1 forms a backdrop to what followed.
19. RL2 was a claim brought by the respondent against Southcombe & Hayley. He commenced the proceedings on 2nd August 1991 in the Bloomsbury County Court. By that action he sought to make the solicitors personally liable for the failure or alleged failure of their client, Mr Sanaei, to repair the flat and also for a number of other matters. The defects which were said to require repair were those complained of in the counterclaim in RL1. On 5th August 1991 this claim was struck out by District Judge Wigfield as disclosing no reasonable cause of action. He made an order for costs against the respondent.
20. RL3 was a claim brought by the respondent against Mr Sanaei, Arad Limited and Rola Properties Limited. It was commenced in what had by then become the Central London County Court on 17th March 1993. The claim was for damages for the unrepaired defects in the flat, again the same defects it seems as those complained of in the counterclaim in RL1. The respondent succeeded in this action. On 19th May 1993 he obtained judgment against Mr Sanaei and Rola for damages, assessed on 8th July 1993 at £8,024.46 and £4,732.62 respectively. It seems that on 24th November 1994 the respondent also obtained a Charging Order against the long lease of the flat and subsequently an order for its sale. Plainly this claim was not vexatiously made and there is no suggestion by the Attorney that it was. However, I should notice that during the course of that action the respondent also obtained a Garnishee Order which related to money allegedly owed by Westminster City Council to Mr Sanaei and Rola. These Garnishee proceedings were ultimately struck out. It appears that one application in the Garnishee proceedings was listed for 13th December 1994 along with an interlocutory application in the main action.
21. It also appears that on the same day Westminster City Council was represented by a legal executive and that after the hearing there was a scuffle outside the court. That resulted in an investigation by the police and the respondent was prosecuted for assault. This incident is the genesis of some of the more recent litigation in which the respondent has been involved and to which I will refer in due course. The assault case itself was disposed of on 30th August 1995. Mr Lutterodt says that on that date:
“It was dismissed provided he kept the peace (from which I infer he was probably bound over)”.
22. I set out that quotation because the respondent submitted to us that the order that he keep the peace was quite separate from the dismissal of the charge, although Mr Lutterodt says that the charge was dismissed provided he kept the peace. I mention the point because as I understood it the respondent went so far as to say that this was itself evidence of a deliberate untruth told by Mr Lutterodt in the course of his witness statement. That I think illustrates the chasm between reality and the respondent.
23. RL4 was another claim issued in the Central London County Court, this time against the solicitors Southcombe & Hayley. It was commenced on 26th November 1993. The claim was to the effect that the solicitors had purported to act for Mr Sanaei when they had no authority to do so.
24. Paragraph 2 of the particulars of claim, drafted personally by the respondent, is in these terms:
“The defendant in their attempt to get possession and evict me unlawfully from the premises, knowingly brought possession claim against me in the name of David Sanaei who never been my landlord and accordingly was not entitled to possession of the premises.”
25. On 12th December 1993 this claim was struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action. The respondent failed to comply with an order that had been made that he should replead his claim. He applied to set aside that order but on 20th January 1994 the application was dismissed. He appealed but his appeal was dismissed on 28th July 1994. Costs were awarded against him. His Honour Judge White held in terms that there was no cause of action disclosed against the solicitors.
26. RL5 was one of two criminal prosecutions referred to by Mr Lutterodt, and I must explain the position relating to it. As I have said, the Attorney at first sought an All Proceedings Order. It was in January 1994 that the respondent is said to have laid an information against Southcombe & Hayley at the Marylebone Magistrates Court alleging the commission of an offence under section 2(4) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. That criminalised a failure to provide certain kinds of particulars in certain circumstances. On 1st February 1994 the Senior Chief Clerk of the Court wrote to Southcombe & Hayley before issuing a summons to see whether there was any misunderstanding which could be clarified. The respondent ultimately did not pursue the matter. In fact he says that the prosecution was never in truth commenced at all. In the course of his submissions he showed us a letter from Mr McCallion, Housing Information Officer at the Westminster City Council, to Southcombe & Hayley. The letter is dated 22nd November 1993 and is in part in the following terms:
“I have been consulted by the above named tenant [the respondent] who required to know the landlord’s name and address.”
27. The reference is to the flat at Alexandra Court. The letter continues:
“I am advised that Mr Amin made a written request for this information on 21st October 1993. I have also been shown your letter of reply dated 26th October 1993 stating that you are without instructions and cannot help Mr Amin.
Under section 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 a tenant may make a written request to the landlord, agent or person who demands the rent, to be supplied with the name and address of the landlord. The information requested must be provided within 21 days.
A person who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with the request commits a summary offence and is liable on conviction to a £2,500 fine. Westminster City Council is empowered to prosecute this offence.
I would be grateful if you could arrange for the necessary information to be supplied to the tenant as a matter of urgency.”
28. A month later on 22nd December 1993 Mr McCallion wrote to the respondent. The letter includes this assertion:
“It is apparent that Southcombe & Hayley do not intend to comply and I believe that an offence has been committed. Accordingly, I intend referring this matter to the City Solicitor for prosecution. In this regard, if you remain willing to give evidence, I would like to arrange to take your formal statement.”
29. The respondent showed us certain other correspondence but the references which I have set out are in my judgment enough to demonstrate (assuming, contrary to his own assertion, that the respondent did indeed lay an information against Southcombe & Hayley) that this cannot properly be described as a vexatious act on his part. I hope it goes without saying that I by no means make any finding or express the slightest view as to whether Southcombe & Hayley were in breach of the terms of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, far less whether they had committed any crime. The point is simply this: since the Housing Information Officer at Westminster City Council at least took the provisional view that there was or may have been an offence here, it cannot have been vexatious for the respondent acting on the same view to lay an information. Mr Hoskins for the Attorney, as I understand it, would for his part accept as much.
30. I turn to RL6. This was an action brought by Alexandra Lanark Limited against Rola Properties Limited and the respondent. It was issued in the Central London County Court on 11th April 1995. By then Alexandra Lanark Limited (the plaintiffs) were the freeholders of Alexandra Court. The claim consisted in forfeiture proceedings against Rola on the ground of non-payment of rent and service charge. In the particulars of claim the respondent’s occupation of the flat and his potential entitlement to claim relief from forfeiture were expressly drawn to the court’s attention. The respondent was joined as second defendant on 13th June 1995. This action was on 21st August 1995 consolidated with another, RL7, which I will describe in a moment. A further action, not separately numbered by Mr Lutterodt but whose court number is CL630209, was also consolidated with these two actions.
31. RL7 was a claim brought by the respondent against Alexandra Lanark Limited in the Central London County Court. It was issued on 27th April 1995. It alleged the tort of nuisance. The claim was that the respondent’s room had been flooded by sewage and there were water leaks. The respondent sought a declaration of his right to use certain facilities in the basement and to have access to the flat. That was based on a complaint that Alexandra Lanark Limited for its part had asserted that he was only permitted to do so by their licence. As I have said, that action was consolidated with RL6.
32. CL630209 was another claim by the respondent against Alexandra Lanark Limited issued on 8th January 1996. The Attorney for some reason was not in possession of any documents relating to that case. The respondent told us that it related to access to the premises. It was the other action consolidated with RL6.
33. During the course of RL6’s progress through the courts, the respondent appears to have made an application for specific discovery. That was dismissed on 29th January 1996 with costs. On 5th March 1996 the respondent’s appeal was heard. That too was dismissed with costs. It seems that notwithstanding those defeats the respondent reapplied for the same relief. On 14th May 1996 that further application was dismissed with costs to be paid forthwith. The respondent appealed against that order alleging that the judge dealing with it had misconducted himself. On 31st July 1996 his appeal was dismissed with costs. The costs payable forthwith were taxed at £1,700-odd on 20th September 1996. On 8th October 1996 the respondent’s application to set aside the taxation was dismissed. He appealed against that decision but the appeal was dismissed with costs on 4th December 1996.
34. Now I may return to the three consolidated actions. They were heard by His Honour Judge Medawar QC between 12th and 15th August 1996. On 14th August during the hearing the judge found it necessary to grant an injunction to restrain the respondent from interfering with or molesting the lay witnesses. Before us the respondent bitterly contested that there had been any need at all for such an injunction. That protest on his part was characteristic of his stance in response to the Attorney’s application; it was essentially an energetic attempt to raise many of his previous complaints.
35. On 16th August 1996 Judge Medawar gave judgment in the three actions. He made a possession order in favour of Alexandra Lanark Limited against both Rola and the respondent. He also dismissed the claims which the respondent had made in all three actions. He found in respect of the respondent’s allegations of sewage flooding that:
“His complaints are exaggerated. Where his evidence differed from that of others, I am unable to accept his evidence.”
36. As regards the respondent’s allegations against other residents at Alexandra Court, Judge Medawar found that:
“None of these allegations are made out, and on the evidence they are, as I find, without any vestige of truth whatsoever.”
37. The judge went on to find that the respondent had produced an unpleasant anonymous letter whose authorship he had in fact denied. As regards his complaints about the continuous leaks of water, the judge found that:
“There was no satisfactory evidence of that. It is improbable and not borne out by anything said or done by him before the inception of this action.”
38. One of the respondent’s complaints had been about infestation of vermin. The judge said:
“I prefer the evidence of others who, although only there from time to time, saw nothing to support these recently made allegations.”
39. Then in relation to the access action, CL630209, Judge Medawar said:
“It is difficult to see what, if any, purpose was achieved by bringing these further proceedings.”
40. Generally the judge made this observation:
“Moreover, Mr Amin has conducted himself in such a way as I find as amounted to harassment of the resident directors of Alexandra Lanark Limited, both by threats and causing them to have to expend much money on these and other misconceived proceedings.”
41. He found that the proceedings generally had been protracted by Mr Amin’s conduct and he made an order for indemnity costs against him.
42. I should say at this stage that the respondent has sought to undermine Judge Medawar’s judgment in his submissions before us. He said that Judge Medawar had (his words) “tampered” with the evidence, and he added “not for the first time”.
43. The respondent sought to appeal that decision to the Court of Appeal on 13th September 1996, although he seems to have claimed to be unaware of the contents of the judgment. At all events on 8th November 1996 the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal after a hearing on notice.
44. RL8 was a claim issued on 22nd February 1996 in the Central London County Court against an upstairs neighbour of the respondent, Mr Lawrie. The respondent claimed relief for nuisance. He alleged that water had leaked from Mr Lawrie’s flat into his flat. He made complaints about an assault and instances of noise nuisance. It is not clear whether the water leaks in question here were the same as those complained of in RL7 against Alexandra Lanark Limited, though they may well have been. The respondent made a late attempt to have the trial in this case adjourned; that was unsuccessful; the application was dismissed by the District Judge on 21st November 1996. It is worth noticing that the defence in this action, RL8, includes an express averment that the respondent was deliberately refusing to claim under an insurance policy so that he might bring proceedings against the defendant Mr Lawrie. The defence raises a number of disputes of fact which would depend for their resolution on an assessment of the respondent’s truthfulness.
45. RL9 was a claim in the High Court. It was commenced by writ issued on 15th April 1996. In those proceedings the respondent sued Alexandra Lanark Limited for damages for defamation. The claim related to two incidents. The first was in June 1992 when the respondent had removed a brass plaque with the words “Porter’s Flat” from the door to the flat. He claimed that the plaque was misleading. A complaint was made to the police. The respondent was arrested but released without charge. The second incident took place in April 1993 when it seems that a circular letter was sent to all the tenants in Alexandra Court stating, according to the respondent, that the respondent had vandalised the company’s property and fraudulently used the telephone. Those complaints also were allegedly referred to the police. An application was made by Alexandra Lanark Ltd to strike out this claim on the ground that it was statute barred and also because the so-called letter - in reality it was a notice of an extraordinary general meeting - did not name the respondent, contrary to his assertion. Alexandra Lanark’s application was successful. The action was struck out by Master Hodgson on 5th July 1996. He made an order for costs against the respondent in part upon an indemnity basis. Master Hodgson observed that the respondent’s case was difficult to understand and that “there is a considerable body of evidence in Jane Pontifex’s first affidavit which suggests the motives for the delayed libel action are not genuine... An incident in paragraph 15 of Jane Pontifex’s first affidavit substantiates her assertion that since the plaintiff sacked his solicitors the defendant [that is a mistake for plaintiff] has acted in person and has sought to force up costs.” The Master concluded that the respondent’s claim in these proceedings had not been made in good faith.
46. RL10 was another set of proceedings in the High Court. On 23rd July 1996, that is within three months of the defamation action RL9 being dismissed, the respondent issued an originating summons returnable on 13th September 1996 seeking leave to issue a further defamation action against Alexandra Lanark Limited out of time. It is not entirely clear whether the allegations were precisely the same as those made in RL9 but they certainly related to the same period of time and were of the same general nature. At all events there can be no doubt but that they could have been made in the earlier action. Alexandra Lanark, unsurprisingly, opposed the application for leave to commence these proceedings, and on 20th February 1997 it was dismissed with costs on an indemnity basis. There is evidence in the affidavit of Jane Pontifex to the effect that this application was made solely to drive up the costs which the respondent’s adversary, Alexandra Lanark Limited, would have to pay. Paragraph 17 of that affidavit reads thus:
“I believe that the financial burden which these proceedings would place upon the defendant is the only motivation for the issue of these proceedings so long after the events in question. As with the other proceedings issued by the plaintiff against the defendant, this is simply part of the plaintiff’s vendetta against the defendant and its directors.
18. I am told by the defendant’s current Chairman, Anthony Ball, and by the defendant’s solicitor Francis Price, that Mr Amin stated to them on 7th February 1996 that he intended to make the defendant incur substantial legal fees and that he had nothing to lose presumably because he has no assets to meet any costs orders that are made against him. A copy of the solicitor’s attendance note is exhibited herewith.”
47. The view there expressed by Miss Pontifex as to the respondent’s motive in bringing the proceedings seems to have been accepted by Master Eyre who dismissed the originating application, as I have said, with indemnity costs. The respondent relies on a letter in the bundle produced by him as showing a different picture in relation to the attitude taken by Alexandra Lanark to him. I do not believe that letter takes him anywhere. In any event his reliance on it is another example of his seeking to go behind the result in litigation now long passed.
48. RL11 was yet another action in the Central London County Court. It was commenced on 3rd February 1997 by the respondent against Southcombe & Hayley (the solicitors). This time he claimed the return of rent which he had paid to the solicitors on behalf of Rola. The assertion being made was that the solicitors had falsely and knowingly claimed that Rola was at the material time the respondent’s landlord. The case was defended by the solicitors and on 28th April 1998 the claim was dismissed with costs. The District Judge found in respect of a particular agreement which the respondent had alleged to have been made that:
“There is no evidence that even comes close to satisfying me, on balance, that the parties reached the agreement alleged by [Mr Amin]... I prefer the defendant’s evidence as to what was discussed and agreed in respect of the rent and arrears.”
49. The respondent sought to appeal the dismissal of his claim but that was dismissed on 11th December 1998.
50. RL12 was a claim commenced on 10th April 1997 by the respondent against the Westminster City Council. The claim was in defamation. Its basis or putative basis was that statements made to the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to the assault charge arising out of the events of 13th December 1994 (I have earlier referred to that) were defamatory. At a later stage the respondent amended the claim to include a claim for malicious prosecution. The action was defended. It was set down for trial in January 1998. It seems that no fixed date has been applied for. The Attorney’s information was that the trial has not been listed and that the respondent had taken no steps since March 1998. The respondent told us that the case is now in the warned list. In relation to an application to strike out that part of the claim which alleged malicious prosecution, the respondent says that the City Council Solicitor who gave him notice of a certain authority decided in the Court of Appeal deliberately concealed the decision of the House of Lords in the same case. That is an instance of his excessive willingness to see deceit and misconduct in the most trivial incident.
51. On 11th January 2000 the City Council solicitors wrote to Mr Lutterodt about this case. The letter includes this:
“Witness statements were exchanged on 12th February 1998 and the case was ready for trial at that point. We sent our dates to avoid to the clerk on 6th March 1998. Mr Amin telephoned on 16th March 1998 stating that all the witnesses were available in April and that the case could go ahead then. That was the last that I heard from him.
We understand that the clerk to the court is reluctant to list this trial having come across Mr Amin before.”
52. Thus it is not entirely clear what the present position is in relation to that action.
53. RL13 was a defamation action against Southcombe & Hayley. It was commenced on 14th April 1997. The allegation was that correspondence about the respondent had been passed by Southcombe & Hayley to Alexandra Lanark Limited without any instructions from their clients, Mr and Mrs Sanaei. The respondent said that the correspondence contained allegations of theft and fraud against him. The action was stayed, subject however to the respondent being allowed to apply to re-re-amend his statement of claim for which an application was, as I understand it, outstanding. The application was heard on 11th December 1997 and permission to re-re-amend was refused. On that occasion Master Tennant is recorded as having found the respondent’s account of matters to be “an extraordinarily improbable story.” The respondent was ordered to pay the costs of the summonses and the stay was continued. If the respondent did not pay then the action was to be struck out. On that basis it was in due course in fact struck out in June 1998.
54. RL14 was an action launched by the solicitors themselves, Southcombe & Hayley, against the respondent. It too was a claim in defamation. The writ was issued on 1st February 1999. The solicitors sought an injunction to restrain the respondent from publishing various allegations against them. This seems to have arisen from a letter which the respondent had between June and December 1998 circulated to a number of firms of solicitors. The respondent counterclaimed seeking aggravated and exemplary damages put at £250,000. The counterclaim appears to be an attempt to relitigate the issue whether Southcombe & Hayley were acting without instructions when they represented Mr Sanaei and his companies. Ultimately, Southcombe & Hayley obtained summary judgment for an injunction and the counterclaim was dismissed.
55. On the respondent’s appeal to Mr Justice Bell against the order striking out the defence and counterclaim, the judge found the respondent “being faced with this order, has set his face against giving the information required, taking the view that he has no legal or moral obligation to do so and that he should be allowed to say whatever he wants.”
56. After this action had been disposed of and while an attempt to appeal to the Court of Appeal was in train, the respondent wrote to Southcombe & Hayley threatening to continue to publish the allegations asserting that he would:
“...not be deterred by any order or injunction which Southcombe & Hayley may obtain. The best the court can do is to go on a rampage of revenge against me and that is useless in my case.”
57. I now turn to the “Sports Centre litigation”. Mr Lutterodt gives an introductory description of its genesis which was to this following effect. On or about 25th July 1996, the respondent commenced employment with a company called Civic Leisure Limited. His job was as a part-time recreation officer at the Jubilee Sports Centre. Then on 3rd August 1996 he became a full-time employee at the Queen Mother Sports Centre but was transferred back to the Jubilee Sports Centre on 1st October 1996. On 24th January 1997 there was an incident at the Jubilee Sports Centre whose upshot was that disciplinary proceedings were commenced against the respondent. In this incident five men, and I should say the respondent alleged they were all drug dealers, had attempted to confront the respondent. The respondent had been escorted from the Jubilee Sports Centre by a manager who was later to allege that the respondent had been in possession of a knife and had threatened to harm one or more of the men concerned. On 11th February 1997 there was a disciplinary hearing and the respondent was summarily dismissed from his employment for gross misconduct. On 16th May 1997 there was a hearing of an internal appeal against that decision but that appeal was dismissed. That then was the background.
58. Action RL15 was a claim by the respondent against four defendants. It was issued in the High Court on 23rd June 1997. The first defendant was Tony Paul (the operations manager of the Jubilee Sports Centre); the second was Duncan Walker (the general manager); the third Ian White (the general manager of another sports centre); and the fourth was Civic Leisure Limited which had been the respondent’s employer. The action seems to have amounted to a claim in negligence and also in defamation. The negligence claim consisted in an allegation that Civic Leisure Limited had permitted drug dealers and gangsters to use the Jubilee Sports Centre to deal in drugs and stolen goods and that this had harmed the respondent’s health. The defamation claim related to statements made by the managers in the course of the disciplinary proceedings about the January 1997 incident.
59. On 30th March 1998 Popplewell J heard an application by the defendants to strike out the claim. As regards the negligence claim that was put on the basis that there was no recognised injury alleged by the respondent and therefore the full tort of negligence was simply not pleaded. As regards the defamation claim or claims, the application was made in reliance on a recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Friend v Civil Aviation Authority, 5th February 1998 - it had dealt with the issue of liability for allegedly defamatory statements which had formed the basis of disciplinary proceedings.
60. Popplewell J struck out both claims. As regards negligence he expressly referred to the possibility that the respondent might however be able to put his case in order. In particular there was a question whether he might produce the medical report which the rules of court required. As regards the defamation claims the judge looked not only at the pleaded claims - as regards those he held they were covered by the Court of Appeal authority - but he also considered the respondent’s wider and at that stage unpleaded allegations that there had been publication of the allegedly defamatory statements to other people, and Popplewell J took the view that none of those wider allegations could properly be pursued by the respondent.
61. The respondent took no steps to put his negligence claim in order, despite what Popplewell J had said. What he did was to seek to appeal the whole of Popplewell J’s decision. On 3rd July 1998 the Court of Appeal dismissed his application for leave. Kennedy LJ said:
“...in my judgment, none of the grounds of appeal which have been advanced are arguable.”
62. RL16 was another claim against Messrs Paul, Walker and White and Civic Leisure Limited, but there was an additional defendant, one Daniel Law, who was one of the two people who had heard the respondent’s internal disciplinary appeal. This action was commenced on 10th July 1998. That, it will be noted, was one week after the Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss his appeal in RL15. RL16 was an attempt to start a second defamation action against the defendants whom I have named. The respondent had to ask for leave to institute the proceedings out of time. He prepared a draft statement of claim to support this application. That contained certain new allegations to the effect that two of the five men who had been involved in the January 1997 incident were employed as security guards at the Jubilee Sports Centre; that Tony Paul was a very close friend and associate of the alleged drug dealers and gangsters; and that Duncan Walker was a close associate of Jamaican drug dealers operating in and around the sports centre. There were allegations moreover of a conspiracy to deprive the respondent if his employment at the Sports Centre and allegations of defamation arising out of the statements made between the defendants and two other employees of Civic Leisure Limited in the course of the disciplinary proceedings. I should say that many instances of these allegations concerned the same statements as had been relied on in the previous action. There was also an allegation of a publication to one William Bowman who had been the manager of Seymore Leisure Centre, another sports centre owned or run by Civic Leisure Limited, and there was a yet further allegation that Mr Bowman had published a defamatory statement on 15th October 1997 by holding a certain conversation with the respondent, which however was or could have been overheard by other unidentified people.
63. On 13th October 1998 Master Leslie heard the respondent’s application for leave to issue out of time; he dismissed it with costs.
64. I should add that it is plain from the papers relating to this application that there was a complete conflict of evidence between the respondent and the various defendants as to virtually every fundamental issue of fact.
65. RL17 was a claim against Mr Paul, Mr Walker, Mr Law and Civic Leisure Limited. It was issued on 19th August 1998. This time the respondent concentrated his efforts upon an alleged conspiracy between the first and second defendants to deprive him of his employment. The defendants in this action applied unsuccessfully twice for the respondent’s claim to be struck out. The first application was apparently heard by Master Leslie at the same time as the respondent’s unsuccessful application for leave to issue defamation proceedings out of time, that was RL16. However, Master Leslie on 13th October 1998 held that this claim (RL17) was not scandalous, frivolous or vexatious; it was listed for trial in the Central London County Court to which it had been transferred on 28th February 2000 but at the beginning of February 2000 the defendants applied for the trial to be stayed pending the outcome of this present application under section 42. That order was made and so those proceedings were stayed. Clearly if that action stood on its own, and given its survival of the attempts to strike it out and the observation made by Master Leslie, it would not itself constitute vexatious proceedings.
66. RL18 was a claim brought by the respondent against Mr Bowman, Mr Paul, Mr Walker, Mr Law and Civic Leisure Limited. It was issued on 14th October 1998. That was the day after Master Leslie had dismissed the respondent’s application for leave to issue in RL16. This was a further defamation action with one extra defendant, Mr Bowman. The claim was however largely no more than a re-run of the previous complaints of defamation. The defendant sought to strike out the claim; they succeeded in doing so in respect of the second to fourth defendants and the fifth defendant (that was the company so far as it was their employer). Only the new allegation against Mr Bowman and the fifth defendant’s potential liability as the respondent’s employer were, as I understand it, permitted to progress towards trial. It appears now that even this allegation was stayed pending the outcome of the previous conspiracy action. We are told by Mr Lutterodt that a Case Management Conference had been fixed for 13th March 2000 but no one seems to know what has happened to the action since.
67. RL19, the last of the sets of proceedings described by Mr Lutterodt, was the second criminal prosecution said to have been launched by the respondent and on which the Attorney originally relied. I deal with the matter shortly. It was on 11th November 1996 that the respondent issued a summons for perjury against Mr Jakimeczko. He had given evidence in the trial in August 1996 before His Honour Judge Medawar who as I have said presided over the three actions which had been consolidated. The summons was dismissed on 15th January 1997 as being completely misconceived. The Attorney has no primary documents, I think, in relation to this case, although there is a letter in his bundle that contains some details. I need not go into it. It is enough to say that the respondent submitted that there was material to show at least that there was a prima facie case against his proposed defendant. He showed us some documents indicating that in relation to a question whether any complaints had been made against Mr Jakimeczko (he having been a Porter at the block of flats), his evidence differed from some contemporary records.
68. If this case had stood on its own - and I have already expressed my views as regards the other criminal prosecution - it would not in my judgment be enough to justify making an order under section 42 against the respondent in relation to criminal process and I have already indicated the Attorney accepts as much since he seeks only a Civil Proceedings Order.
69. What then is the respondent’s response to all this material? The flavour may be taken from paragraph 3 of his witness statement:
“I verily believe that the applicant is acting on instructions and/or information been given to him by criminals in their attempt to avoid being prosecuted for serious criminal offences and/or the applicant’s prime objective in bringing these proceedings is to assist criminals to avoid being prosecuted for serious criminal offences. Further I believe that the applicant is acting on instructions and/or information being given to him by those who have obtained Court orders and/or judgments against me through improper tactics including but not limited to perjury and deliberately withholding vital documents that have been crucial to my cases.”
70. Not content with making these allegations of grave misconduct against the Attorney-General, the respondent when asked by me what evidence there was to support such a suggestion, replied simply that because this witness statement had not been responded to by the Attorney it must stand as proved fact. Otherwise the respondent’s response to the section 42 application has in very large measure consisted in an attempt to assault the results of the various proceedings in which judgments or orders were given against him. I have already referred in passing to various points which he has sought to make. He asserted that Mr Sanaei was not his landlord; that the underlease granted by Arad Limited to Rola Properties limited was unlawful; that Judge Medawar had tampered with the evidence in the consolidated actions; that Southcombe & Hayley were “totally dishonest”; he claimed that Jane Pontifex’s evidence that he (the respondent) had issued process in order to drive up his adversary’s costs was contradicted by other material. In one respect or another he has sought to ventilate again disputes which he has lost, in some cases long ago. It is well established that it is not the function of this court upon a section 42 application to permit any such exercise. In the course of the hearing I repeatedly sought, as clearly as I could, to explain this to the respondent. If he understood what I was saying, and I believe that he did, he persistently ignored it. His whole presentation in addressing us to my mind constitutes the most powerful support for the Attorney-General’s case.
71. The respondent is not here to listen to this judgment. We finished the argument a little after 12 o’clock today and commenced the judgment at about 12.15 pm; in the meantime Mr Amin decided to leave the court. It had been necessary to put a limit of time upon his submissions to which, however, my lady and I listened, I hope patiently, for a very considerable period.
72. It seems to me that the Attorney has amply made out a case for a Civil Proceedings Order. For my part I would hold that it is proved that the respondent has habitually and persistently and without any reasonable ground instituted vexatious civil proceedings and made vexatious applications in civil proceedings. There have been, I should emphasise, some successes for him and I have mentioned those. I am not holding that every single act in the multifarious litigation I have described has been a vexatious one; but when one looks at the whole picture, as I have said the criterion under the statute is amply fulfilled. I see no basis upon which it would be right to make an order limited in time and I have no doubt but that this respondent would continue to litigate in effect indefinitely if he were allowed to do so. For all the reasons I have given, I would make a Civil Proceedings Order in this case not limited in time.
73. MRS JUSTICE RAFFERTY: I agree.
74. LORD JUSTICE LAWS: There is nothing else to be said, Mr Hoskins, is there? There is nothing else you ask for.
75. MR HOSKINS: No, my Lord. My solicitor has drawn up a draft order which I can hand in.
76. LORD JUSTICE LAWS: Yes, hand it in now and we will deal with it.
77. MR HOSKINS: My Lord, I have amended the order in manuscript. The first part of the order recites the initial application made by the Attorney, which of course is for an “All Proceedings Order”, and I think the history is really taken down at the bottom of page 2. Over the page at page 3 there are manuscript amendments to reflect what took place during the course of the proceedings. It involves the deletion of paragraphs 4 and 5 from the originally contemplated order.
78. LORD JUSTICE LAWS: Yes, I see exactly how that has been done. We will make the order in that form. If we both initial this copy that, I imagine, will be enough for it to be drawn up.