Neutral Citation Number: [2004] EWHC 698 (Admin) CO/653/2004

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
DIVISIONAL COURT

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London WC2
23rd March 2004

B e f o r e :

LORD JUSTICE KENNEDY
MR JUSTICE MACKAY

____________________

HER MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY GENERAL (CLAIMANT)
-v-
RAISA FRADKINA (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 A TOLLEY (instructed by Treasury Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the CLAIMANT
The Defendant appeared in person

____________________

HTML VERSION OF JUDGMENT

Crown Copyright

    Tuesday, 23rd March 2004

  1. LORD JUSTICE KENNEDY: This is an application made by Her Majesty's Solicitor General on behalf of the Attorney General under section 42 of the Supreme Court Act of 1981. That section, so far as material, reads:

    "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; ...
    the court may, after hearing that person or giving him an opportunity of being heard, make a civil proceedings order..."
  2. It is contended by Mr Tolley on behalf of the applicant that the respondent, Mrs Fradkina, has behaved in a way which satisfies the requirements of the section and that we should therefore make in relation to her a civil proceedings order.

  3. It seems that Mrs Fradkina came to the United Kingdom from the Ukraine with her son in about 1990 to 1991. He was born on 8th October 1986, so he was then four or five years of age. Almost all of her litigation has been concerned with either housing or the decision that her son should be taken into care.

  4. Since 1998 she has instituted 30 separate claims and she has been involved in 34 appeals and 10 other applications. Examination of the papers, which appear in two lever arch files before us, show that she attempts to re-litigate when she plainly should have stopped. For example, on four separate occasions, in what are now claims numbered 5, 6, 29 and 31, she brought actions against an estate agent in relation to some allegedly substandard accommodation provided for her and her family at 59 Edgewarebury Gardens. Claims 5 and 6 were struck out together in November 1998, but claims 29 and 31 were then instituted in 2001 and 2002, covering the same ground, and both were struck out.

  5. A further three claims, claims 9, 20 and 23, concern allegations of poor quality accommodation provided by Barnet Council in Colindale Avenue. Claim 9 was struck out in November 1998. Claims 20 and 23 were attempts to re-litigate the same issue by way of applications for judicial review in 2000 and 2001.

  6. Following her conviction at Barnet Magistrates' Court on 16th October 2000 for breach of a nuisance order and the dismissal of her appeal by Wood Green Crown Court on 19th January 2001, Mrs Fradkina brought four claims in 2001 seeking, in effect, to continue her challenge to that conviction. Those are now numbered claims 21, 22, 24 and 25. All of those were dismissed.

  7. Following the determination of the care proceedings which form the subject matter of claim 15, another five claims, claims 26, 28, 33, 34 and 35, have been brought in an effort to re-litigate the issues which arose in the care proceedings. Within the care proceedings themselves, following their final determination, Mrs Fradkina brought another eight applications leading to six further appeals.

  8. As that list shows, there seems to be an almost automatic resort to appeal and an unwillingness to give effect to the orders of the court. One of the applications in claim 15 was brought in breach of an order made pursuant to section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 that no further relevant application should be brought by Mrs Fradkina without the leave of the court, and six quantified costs orders have been made against Mrs Fradkina, in claims 1, 8, two orders in claim 9, 11, 24 and 30, and none of them have been complied with. Another five costs orders in claims 5, 6, 10, 25 and 30 were made for costs to be assessed which do not appear to have been taken any further.

  9. So it is submitted by Mr Tolley that this litigation undertaken by Mrs Fradkina has been vexatious, and almost all of it has been without reasonable ground. There have been one or two exceptions. Claim 14 was a dispute between Mrs Fradkina and her then neighbour and it was settled by the provision of cross-undertakings as to future behaviour. In claim 16, which was a claim for possession, there was an appeal to the Court of Appeal which was allowed by consent. She had, it seems, not been present when the order had been made by the judge, but when the matter was then considered afresh a possession order was obtained against her. In claim 19, a claim against a firm of solicitors, the claim was settled. That was, it seems, so far as the defendants were concerned, on the basis that it was more cost effective to refund Mrs Fradkina the deposit against fees in the sum of 470 rather than to contest the proceedings. It is noticeable that in that case the defendants had served a detailed defence. But 19 claims have been struck out by the court summarily and five more have been dismissed on the express or implied ground that they were totally devoid of merit. She was made the subject of an extended civil restraint order by Silber J following her attempts to re-litigate the decision in relation to the nuisance orders made in the Barnet County Court, but her enthusiasm for litigation shows, it seems, no signs of abating.

  10. She has addressed us this morning for some three-quarters of an hour and has made a number of points in addition to the documentation which she has placed before this court. She questioned the authenticity, as we understood it, of the order made at the initiation of these proceedings, but we are satisfied that the proceedings have been properly and validly authenticated. She has sought, again, to challenge what happened in Barnet. By way of example, her skeleton argument begins: "I have examined the draft order of Barnet and conclude that it is so wide ranging it breaches criminal law and is an attempt to pervert the High Court and in relation to other circumstances etc". She claims that she was arrested in 1998 without proper authority, and indeed that her son was arrested at the same time. She complains that no-one ever asked her or her son about their wishes before her son was taken into the care of the local authority, and that she complains is a breach of Article 8.

  11. She seems unable unfortunately, as Mr Tolley envisaged might be the situation, to appreciate that in this court we are not going over ground which has already been gone over in other actions which are now the subject matter of this application.

  12. She said that she did not understand why her child had been taken away. She claimed to us that some of the orders made in the various proceedings were invalid: in certain cases because she said the dates were wrong, in other cases because she said they were fake. Four orders she said bore the same date and that, she submitted, could not possibly be correct.

  13. If anything, she said in submission that she would relate her complaints to individual actions, but in fact in the end she did not seem to be doing so. She invited our attention to parts of exhibit 3, which is exhibited to her written submissions, and which contains correspondence with a housing trust. She pointed out the condition of properties in 1996 as evidenced by the documentation. She read out to us part of the reasoning of Mantell LJ when refusing her leave to appeal in relation to a matter now about four years ago.

  14. She complains that people have harassed her family, and one thing should be said, and we recognise this, that she does have very serious family problems. She has difficulties which are only too clear on the papers in this case relating not only to her son but to her disabled daughter. She complains that in 2003 a letter was written to her indicating the amount of disability allowance she would be receiving, but in the end she did not receive as much as had been promised, but in relation to that it seems that she has had some assistance from the Citizens Advice Bureau, and she says that, in answer to a letter written on her behalf by the bureau, there has been no reply.

  15. It is clear from that brief summary that the submissions made to us by Mrs Fradkina do not really address the heart of the matter so far as this court today is concerned, which is the allegations made by Mr Tolley on behalf of the Attorney General that this lady has been behaving in the way which is alleged and which we have outlined.

  16. I, for my part, am satisfied that she has habitually and persistently and without reasonable ground instituted vexatious civil proceedings and made vexatious applications, and, being satisfied of that, this court has to consider whether it is appropriate for us to make the order sought. I again, for my part, am wholly satisfied that it is appropriate to make a civil proceedings order in her case. That means an order that no civil proceedings shall, without the leave of the High Court, be instituted in any court by Mrs Fradkina, and that any civil proceedings instituted by her in any court before the making of today's order shall not be continued by her without leave of the High Court, and that no application, other than one for leave under section 42(1)(a) of the Supreme Court Act, shall be made by her in any civil proceedings instituted in any court by any person without the leave of the High Court.

  17. I would order accordingly.

  18. MR JUSTICE MACKAY: I agree.

  19. THE DEFENDANT: Give me my documents, and thank you for your lawlessness and we will be continuing. We take our side, our fight.

  20. MR TOLLEY: My Lords, I do not have a draft order at the moment but I can certainly supply one to court or the clerk as is appropriate.

  21. LORD JUSTICE KENNEDY: Yes. Thank you very much for your attendance.

    Back To Queen's Bench Index
    Back To Site Index