IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE CO/2728/97
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
CROWN OFFICE LIST
Royal Courts of Justice
Monday 6th April 1998
B e f o r e:
LORD JUSTICE ROSE
MR JUSTICE SULLIVAN
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HM ATTORNEY GENERAL
ANDREW MARTIN DROZDOWSKI
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(Computer-aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
Smith Bernal Reporting Limited, 180 Fleet Street,
London EC4A 2HD
Telephone No: 0171 421 4040
Fax No: 0171 831-8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court) - - - - - - -
THE APPLICANT appeared in person.
MS D ROSE (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the Respondent.
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J U D G M E N T
(As Approved by the Court)
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Monday 6th April 1998
LORD JUSTICE ROSE: Her Majesty’s Attorney General seeks an all proceedings order under s. 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 in order to prevent Mr Drozdowski from instituting or pursuing civil or criminal proceedings without the leave of the High Court. Before such an order can be made, the court must be satisfied that he has habitually and persistently and without any reasonable ground, instituted vexatious civil proceedings, made vexatious applications in civil proceedings or instituted vexatious prosecutions. In the event that the court is satisfied in relation to those matters, the court has a discretion, after hearing the person against whom the order is sought or giving him the opportunity of being heard, to make, as is sought in the present case, an all proceedings order.
At the outset of today’s hearing, Mr Drozdowski sought an adjournment of the hearing by reason of the matters set out in his affirmation made today. The essence of that application was that he wished to obtain further transcripts in relation to, in particular, civil proceedings in relation to which he had been involved.
The court took the view that there was no material indicated in Mr Drozdowski’s affirmation which would afford a valid reason for an adjournment. He was given the opportunity to address the court at that stage. He agreed that the basis of his application was to obtain further transcripts. The court refused the application.
Turning to the approach which this court must adopt in relation to an application of this kind by the Attorney General, that is set out in a well-known passage in the judgment of Lord Parker CJ in the case of of in Re Vernazza  1 WLR 622 in the following terms:
“In considering whether any proceedings are vexatious one is entitled to, and must look at, the whole history of the matter, and it is not determined by whether the pleading discloses a cause of action. Indeed, that is the principle applied under the rules of court when application is made to strike out a pleading. Though the pleading may be in order, the court, in its inherent jurisdiction, is entitled to look at affidavits as to the history of the matter, and if, in the light of that history the action is vexatious, the pleading can be struck out and the action dismissed.”
There are before this court a number of affidavits to which it is unnecessary to refer in precise terms but the court has read and considered all of them.
The submission made by Miss Rose on behalf of the Attorney General, in summary, is this. Mr Drozdowski has started six separate High Court actions. There have been, in relation to those, sixteen successful applications by the defendants to those proceedings to set aside or strike out the writ. There have been four occasions where Mr Drozdowski has tried to start a private criminal prosecution. There have been a number of other occasions when Mr Drozdowski has threatened to institute civil proceedings and has made a variety of threats against lay people and their legal representatives in the course of correspondence.
Some £50,000 in costs have been incurred by people favoured by litigation at Mr Drozdowski’s hand. Furthermore, on two separate occasions, Mr Drozdowski has been warned, on the first occasion by Ian Kennedy J and secondly by Dyson J, of the risk of proceedings being taken against him by the Attorney General to have him declared a vexatious litigant.
Against that summary, it is necessary to first indicate the background to Mr Drozdowski’s litigious activity. It is, certainly from his point of view, a sad one. When she was almost 17 his stepdaughter left home for reasons which no doubt appeared good to her. Since that time he has sought, by litigation, to achieve redress against those whom he believes abducted her and against the Kent police for failing to take appropriate steps, by way of criminal proceedings and otherwise, to ensure her return. The police investigated matters and their conclusions are set out in a letter from the Kent County Constabulary’s solicitor dated 18th April 1996.
That indicates that the girl had left home of her own volition, was in regular contact with local Social Services, who were happy about her situation and her gainful employment and she had engaged a solicitor to look after her interests. By reason of these matters, the letter indicates that the police had decided not to to take any action in response to Mr Drozdowski’s requests.
The first action, launched in the Thanet District Registry and numbered 1995/D/No. 18 until, when transferred to the central office, it was renumbered 1995/D/880, was brought by Mr Drozdowski purportedly
“on behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses” against a Mr Luc Vanderputte and his stepdaughter, allegedly on behalf of the International Bible Students Association, a body, we are told, connected with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The writ was issued in August 1995. It claimed £40,000,000 in damages for negligence. If one reads the Statement of Claim it is by no means coherent and, plainly, on its face, vexatious. In September 1995, the Defendants applied under Ord. 12, r.8 of the Rules of the Supreme Court for the writ to be set aside on the ground that it had not been properly served. In October, Miss Drozdowski was struck from the proceedings because she was a minor. On 11th January 1996, Mr Drozdowski, on an ex parte application, obtained judgment in default, having falsely certified that the time prescribed by the rules for service of a defence had expired. He sent the default judgment directly to the Defendants. On 31st January the Defendant applied for the judgment to be set side as irregular. That application was allowed by Master Foster. On 2nd February Mr Drozdowski appealed against Master Foster’s order. On 13th February Butterfield J dismissed that appeal. On 5th March the Plaintiff sought, from the Court of Appeal, leave to appeal from the order of Butterfield J, but that application was dismissed by consent at the end of April 1997. Meanwhile, on 19th March 1996, Master Foster had ordered that the writ be set aside with costs on an indemnity basis. On that occasion Mr Drozdowski was in the court building but declined to go into the courtroom. Instead he served a Notice of Motion for the commital of Mr Welsh of the Michael Hill Partnership, the solicitors acting for Mr Luc Vanderputte. He sought that commital on the grounds of contempt of court, the contempt being engaging in defending the action. On the same day he served Notice of Motion to commit
Mr Vanderputte for contempt. Those two Notices of Motion came before Ebsworth J who struck them out and ordered that no further Notices of Motion were to be issued in those proceedings without the leave of a judge. She ordered costs against Mr Drozdowski on an indemnity basis. On 23rd April 1996 Mr Drozdowski appealed against the order of Master Foster in March 1996 setting aside the writ. Sir John Wood, sitting as a High Court Judge, dismissed that appeal and awarded costs on an indemnity basis. He refused leave to appeal. An application was made to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal and that was refused on 4th December 1997.
While that litigation was in progress,
Mr Drozdowski wrote a number of letters to the Michael Hill Partnership, making clear his intention to use litigation, as he put it, “to hound through the courts” with a promise of “an unpleasant future” to those solicitors. He also indicated that he was not going to pay the £43,000 costs orders which had been made against him. He made clear his intention to harass those against whom he had grudges. That category included a number of people, not at that stage party to the proceedings. He referred in one letter to what he called his own “massive litigation technique” and he listed many more actions which he described as “worthy of commencement”. He also, in a letter in June 1996 to
Mr Welsh, said this:
“I appear immune from any form of retribution from yourselves and doubt if you have the capacity to enforce any orders you have taken so long to acquire. These are as you know High Court orders and I am laughing at your inability to even commence enforcement proceedings.”
He went on to say:
“I am free to roam the litigating field with numerous other actions. Dancing in your face to see your own sadness.”
“I am sending a copy of this fax to
J Andrews for further humiliation for you
both. See you again one day fools.”
He concluded that letter with his name after which he put in brackets “laughing in your faces”. Mr Drozdowski also threatened to commit to prison, for contempt,
Mr Vanderputte, if he continued to defend the action.
Action number two was started in the Wakefield District Registry with the number 1995/D/No.103; on transfer to the central office it was renumbered 1995/D/No.892. This was an action against Superintendent David Burchill of the Kent Constabulary for negligence in not prosecuting for the abduction of Mr Drozdowski’s stepdaughter. The writ was issued in October 1995. The Statement of Claim, on perusal, is plainly vexatious. The claim was struck out in January 1996 by Master Foster. Mr Drozdowski’s appeal against that decision was dismissed by Rix J at the end of that month. There was further abusive correspondence which it is unnecessary to read.
Action number three in the Wakefield District Registry 1995/D/No. 109 was an action by Mr Drozdowski against a Mr Robert Smith who was identified as one of those in an unincorporated group which included, among its members, according to the Statement of Claim,
Mr Vanderputte. Relief was claimed for the abduction of Mr Drozdowski’s daughter. The writ was issued in November 1995. On its face, the Statement of Claim is vexatious. The Defendant under Ord.12, r.8 applied for the writ to be set aside and an order to that effect was made by a Deputy District Judge on 19th January 1996 when he declared it disclosed no reasonable cause of action. Against that order, Mr Drozdowski appealed and, for good measure, applied for judgment in default.
On 29th February 1996, that appeal, together with others to which in a moment I shall come, came before
Ian Kennedy J who dismissed it and ordered Mr Drozdowski to pay the Defendant’s costs on an indemnity basis. That was the occasion when the first of the warnings given by a High Court Judge, to which I earlier referred, was given by Ian Kennedy J. He warned of the risk of
Mr Drozdowski being made a vexatious litigant. On 18th March Mr Drozdowski sought leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal. That application was dismissed in December 1997. By that stage a sum of costs, taxed at a little less than £9,000, had been incurred by the defendants.
The fourth action again started in the Wakefield District Registry and was numbered 1996/D/003 and was brought against Trish Jones. She is a Social Worker employed by the Dorset Social Services. Mr Drozdowski claimed against her £50,000,000 by way of damages for negligence. The writ was issued on 3rd January 1996. In this action he entered judgment in default before the time for entering a defence had expired. The District Judge set aside that judgment in April 1996.
Mr Drozdowski appealed. On 10th May the action was
struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action.
Action number five 1996/D/004 was brought by
Mr Drozdowski against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. This time £300,000,000 was claimed for slander, liable, defamation of character, deception, fraud and negligence. That writ, like the writ in action number four, was issued on
3rd January 1996.
A week later, Mr Drozdowski made an ex parte application for a declaration that he was a Minister of Religion and an order permitting him to represent the Jehoviah’s Witnesses. In his supporting affidavit, he said:
“It is felt important for myself to present the viewpoint of God and not my own on this or any other subject.”
On 7th February the District Judge struck out the writ. Mr Drozdowski appealed. That was another appeal which came before Ian Kennedy J on 29th February. It too was dismissed by him with indemnity costs ordered against
Mr Drozdowski. Leave to appeal was refused. On
18th March Mr Drozdowski applied to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal. Ultimately, that application was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 4th December 1997.
In the meantime, on 5th October 1996, notwithstanding the fact that at that time the action was struck out, Mr Drozdowski applied for it to be transferred to Canterbury District Registry. That application was refused. In the course of making it,
Mr Drozdowski asserted his intention to go all the way to the House of Lords on the matter. He appealed against the District Judge’s order. That appeal was dismissed on 23rd January 1997. On 7th June 1997 Mr Drozdowski wrote to the Chief Clerk at the Wakefield County Court abusing the court staff there.
Action Number six was 1996/D/No.005. In this litigation Mr Drozdowski sought against
Mr Vanderputte and Jacqueline Vanderputte, damages for slander, defamation of character and libel in the sum of £50,000,000. That writ was another of those issued on 3rd January 1996. Later that month, Mr Drozdowski sought judgment in default. The District Judge refused this.
Mr Drozdowski appealed. That was another matter coming before Ian Kennedy J on 29th February 1996. The appeal was dismissed with indemnity costs. On 18th March
Mr Drozdowski lodged an application for leave to appeal against Ian Kennedy J’s decision. On 25th March the action was struck out. Against that, Mr Drozdowski appealed and the matter came before Dyson J on
6th November 1996. He categorised the pleading by
Mr Drozdowski as scandalous and frivolous. He, again, for the second time, gave a warning that Mr Drozdowski ran the risk of the Attorney General seeking an order against him declaring him to be a vexatious litigant.
An abusive letter or two was sent by Mr Drozdowski to
Mr Vanderputte and Mr Vanderputte’s legal representatives. His threats included imprisonment and he said that Mr Welsh, in particular, was “doomed”.
So far as criminal proceedings are concerned, on
3rd April 1996, Mr Drozdowski sought to commence criminal proceedings against Luke and Jacqueline Vanderputte for unlawful taking and detention of his stepdaughter contrary to ss. 17 and 19 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956. The Leeds Stipendary Magistrate,
Mrs Hewitt, declined to institute proceedings and issued a certificate which, on its face, is ambiguous and which is subsequently explained by correspondence from the Justices’ Office. What the certificate was apparently intended to do was confirm that Mr Drozdowski had given evidence before Mrs Hewitt. What it in fact said was that there was adequate evidence placed before her to justify the issue of informations. In fact she refused to issue any informations and it is apparent that she must have taken the view that there was no adequate evidence before her to justify that course, although
Mr Drozdowski had given evidence before her. Armed with that document from the Leeds Stipendary Magistrates,
Mr Drozdowski, on 4th April sought to persuade the Thanet Justices to issue informations against Mr and
Mrs Vanderputte. But they refused. On 22nd April
Mr Drozdowski wrote to the Clerk to the Thanet Justices, seeking to lay an information against a “sex offender” who he alleged had assaulted his 12 year old daughter. That was followed a few days later by a further letter threatening proceedings for judicial review against the Justices. On 1st May Mr Drozdowski laid an information before the Leeds Magistrates against his own son, alleging that the son had committed sexual offences against the daughter. The Magistrate refused to issue process and told Mr Drozdowski to report the matter to the police.
There have been a number of other threats of proceedings in writing by Mr Drozdowski. A draft writ was sent by him to Brenda Gannaway who had acted as
Mr Drozdowski’s stepdaughter’s solicitor. The draft writ alleged negligence against her. A threat of criminal proceedings was made against Mr Andrews of the Watchtower. A threat of criminal proceedings was made against the Michael Hill Solicitors Partnership. In June 1997 a threat of proceedings for breach of contract and possible bankruptcy was made against IBSA. In December 1997 a threat of proceedings was made against Sidney Smith of the Watchtower for libel. The letter in which that threat was made referred to hitting Mr Smith with a financial stick “£50,000 so far”. There was also in August 1997 a threat of proceedings for malicious falsehood against the Kent Constabulary. It is to be noted that those threats which I have briefly summarised were made after Ian Kennedy J and Dyson J had given the warnings which I have earlier identified.
In my judgment, this material, which I have sought to summarise, establishes plainly that Mr Drozdowski has habitually, persistently and without any reasonable cause, instituted vexatious civil proceedings, made vexatious applications in civil proceedings and instituted vexatious prosecutions. I am further satisfied that, he having been given the opportunity to address the court, but having declined to do so, his application for an adjournment having been refused, an all proceedings order should be made against him.
MR JUSTICE SULLIVAN: I agree.
LORD JUSTICE ROSE: Accordingly, an all proceedings will be made. Mr Drozdowski, that means that you will not be able to institute proceedings without the leave of the court.
MS ROSE: My Lord, I am grateful.
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