Royal Courts of Justice Strand

London WC2

Monday, 24th November 1997

B e f o r e:




- - - - - - -




- - - - - - -

(Computer-aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of

Smith Bernal Reporting Limited,

180 Fleet Street,

London EC4A 2HD

Telephone No: 0171-831 3183

Fax No: 0171-831 8838

Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)

- - - - - - -

MR P HAVERS QC (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the Applicant.

The Respondent did not appear and was not represented.


(as approved)

Crown copyright

Monday, 24th November 1997

MR JUSTICE GARLAND: This is an application on behalf of the Attorney General pursuant to section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 (as amended) for a Civil Proceedings Order against the Respondent, Mrs Wendy Armistead, prohibiting her, without leave, from instituting any civil proceedings or continuing any proceedings already instituted, or making any application other than an application for leave in any proceedings already instituted.

Between November 1990 and February 1995 the Respondent commenced and prosecuted ten actions against a very large number of Defendants, and between April 1995 and 30th October of that year made various applications and appeals in her own bankruptcy proceedings, including an appeal against a District Judge's refusal to rescind the Bankruptcy Order.

However, since that date the Respondent has not, in fact, instituted any form of legal process, but in March 1995 the Attorney General had authorised the Solicitor General, pursuant to the Law Officers Act 1944, section 1(1)(c), to commence these proceedings. That matter has to be mentioned because the Respondent, by letter of 17th April of this year, challenged the essential validity of the proceedings claiming that they were not issued with proper authority, notwithstanding paragraph 2 of Mr Noble's affidavit deposing to the Solicitor General's authority to bring these proceedings.

The matter has been further dealt with in an affidavit sworn by Jonathan Jones of the Attorney General's Chambers, but we do take this opportunity to observe that perhaps it might commend itself to the Law Officers if practice in future were to include the exhibiting to the principal affidavit of a very short form of written authority which would put points like this beyond peradventure.

The Respondent has more recently referred to the Law Officers Act 1997, the relevance of which is not immediately apparent, but which, in fact, provides for an informal division of tasks as between the two Law Officers. The Respondent indicated, by letter, that she did not propose to attend this hearing. She has been called and is not present. There is, in fact, an affidavit of service of the proceedings sworn on 30th October 1996, and it is clear from recent correspondence that the Respondent has received subsequent documents, in particular the affidavit of Jonathan Jones and, indeed, the summary of submissions proposed to be made by Mr Havers QC.

This matter was originally listed for 28th and 29th July of this year, but because the Respondent had not taken any step in any litigation since 30th October 1995 the Attorney General concluded that it would not be appropriate to proceed unless the Respondent should in the future issue any further proceedings, or make applications in any of the existing actions.

She was, on 2nd June of this year, invited to consent to the withdrawal of these proceedings but declined to do so adhering to her view that they had not been properly instituted, as had already been said. The Treasury Solicitor sought to reassure her in correspondence and also correspondence with a Citizens Advice Bureau which the Respondent had consulted. No consent was forthcoming but the date was vacated and the matter now comes before the Court, in fact, as an application to adjourn with liberty to restore should the Respondent in the future commence fresh actions or take further steps in the existing ones which have not been struck out.

This Court has before it letters from the Respondent, dated 20th, 21st, 22nd and 24th of this month, repeating the assertion that the proceedings are not properly instituted and making a number of allegations and assertions, including drawing our attention to practice directions concerning the service of affidavits and the form in which they should be drawn. However, the recent correspondence contains no hint that the Respondent proposes to institute fresh actions or to take further steps in the existing ones, and, in the view of the Court, the course proposed by the Attorney General is a proper one. We would, therefore, accede to the suggestion that the matter be adjourned with liberty to restore.

LORD JUSTICE PILL: I agree, including as to what Garland J has said about the form in which the authority of the Law Officers might be demonstrated. I have made similar remarks in an earlier case and hope that attention may now be given to them.

MR HAVERS: I am grateful to your Lordships. Of course your Lordships' observations will be notified to the Law Officers without delay and certainly I can well understand how readily a suitable form could be devised to meet your Lordships' observations. So far as the question of costs is concerned, although it may be that the Law Officers would not outwardly seek to enforce any Order, I am instructed to apply for the costs of today's hearing, given that the Respondent has had the opportunity to consent to what was proposed today and has declined to do so. Although the original suggestion is one of withdrawal of the application which she declined to accede to, in the outlined submissions lodged in July what was suggested was what was suggested to your Lordships again today, she declined to accede to that and in later correspondence that point was put to her as was the question as to costs.

Indeed, in the outline submissions in July there was then set out expressly the fact that the Attorney proposed to apply for costs in the event that the application is granted. The Applicant is reminded of that in a letter from the Treasury Solicitor of 14th November, which is in the bundle of correspondence exhibited to Mr Noble's most recent affidavit. My Lords, although, as I say, whether the Law Officers, in fact, ever seek to enforce the Order, I am instructed to invite your Lordships to order the costs of today against the Respondent.

LORD JUSTICE PILL: Would you not have had to have been here, in any event, because the Court wanted to explore the question?

MR HAVERS: My Lord, if the Respondent had acceded in writing to an application to adjourn the proceedings on the existing terms, we could at least have invited the Court to deal with that without the necessity for an oral hearing, thus the considerable savings as to costs.

LORD JUSTICE PILL: It is still your application?

MR HAVERS: It is, my Lord, yes.

LORD JUSTICE PILL: Could it have an adverse effect on what you are seeking to achieve?


LORD JUSTICE PILL: The application for costs is refused.

Back To Queen's Bench Index
Back To Site Index