Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC Admin 810
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE CO/2431/2001
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
Royal Courts of Justice
Monday, 8th October 2001
B e f o r e:
LORD JUSTICE PILL
MR JUSTICE POOLE
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THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF
HER MAJESTY’S ATTORNEY GENERAL
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(Computer-aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
Smith Bernal Reporting Limited
190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2AG
Telephone No: 0207-421 4040/0207-404 1400
Fax No: 0207-831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
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MR S KOVATS (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor, Queen Anne’s Chambers, 28 Broadway, London SW1H 9JS) appeared on behalf of the Applicant.
The Respondent did not attend and was not represented.
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J U D G M E N T
(As Approved by the Court)
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J U D G M E N T
1. LORD JUSTICE PILL: This is an application made on behalf of and sanctioned by the Attorney-General for a civil proceedings order against Mr Nader Kohanzad under section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981. The section provides, insofar as is material:
“(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 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;
(c) instituted vexatious prosecutions, whether against the same person ordifferent persons, the court may, after hearing that person or giving him an opportunity of being heard, make a civil proceedings order, criminal proceedings order or an all proceedings order.”
2. As I have said, it is a civil proceedings order which is sought in this case. On the Attorney’s behalf, Mr Kovats has addressed the Court. There have been prepared five ring arch folders which include papers relating to the many actions on which the Attorney-General relies in seeking the order. The section provides that before an order can be made, the person against whom it is sought must either be heard or be given an opportunity of being heard. The respondent has not appeared before the Court today. I am satisfied that he has had notice of the proceedings. Indeed, in a notice to the court dated 10th September 2001, he made written application “to vacate the hearing of 8th October 2001 to another date”. Reference is made to Article 6 of the Human Rights Act. Reference is also made to a request for legal aid which had been made, and appended to the letter was an application for review which it appears the respondent had sent to the Community Legal Services, dated 18th August 2001, in which it is claimed that he should have legal assistance at today’s hearing.
3. On 12th September the court responded to the request for an adjournment. Nothing further has, as far as I know, been heard from the respondent. The case was listed for 10.30 this morning. When it was called on at about 12.45, he was not in court. His name has been called outside the court, and I understand that the corridors have been walked to see if the defendant is present. The case has been properly listed and, as I have said, it is clear from the request for an adjournment to which I have referred that the respondent has notice of the hearing. I am told also that a telephone call has been made to his home address and no answer was received. I am satisfied that the defendant has had an opportunity to be heard. The Court decided to proceed in his absence.
4. His application for review of the legal aid order was made almost two months ago. It was for him to supply further information to the court, if the application for an adjournment were to be a serious one, as to what had happened since 18th August when he signed the form which he says that he sent to the Community Legal Services. It also appears from a letter written by a representative of the Court Service to the Treasury Solicitor that, following receipt of the adjournment application, the defendant was told that application should be made to the court on notice to the Attorney. I have not seen the letter which was sent to him.
5. Mr Kovats has referred the Court to the principles of law which should be applied in these circumstances. In Re Vernazza  1 WLR 622, Lord Parker CJ stated, at page 624:
“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.”
6. The relevance of that principle is that it is accepted on behalf of the Attorney that, at any rate in the case of some of the actions brought in these courts by the defendant, there may have been what Mr Kovats refers to as some discernible basis in law.
7. In Attorney-General v Barker  1 FLR 759, Lord Bingham CJ stated, at page 764:
“‘Vexatious’ is a familiar term in legal parlance. The hallmark of a vexatious proceeding is that it has little or no basis in law (or at least no discernible basis); that whatever the intention of the proceeding may be, its effect is to subject the defendant to inconvenience, harassment and expense out of all proportion to any gain likely to accrue to the claimant; and that it involves an abuse of the process of the court, meaning by that a use of the court process for a purpose or in a way which is significantly different from the ordinary and proper use of the court process.”
8. Later the Lord Chief Justice stated:
“From extensive experience of dealing with applications under s42 the court has become familiar with the hallmark of persistent and habitual litigious activity. The hallmark usually is that the plaintiff sues the same party repeatedly in reliance on essentially the same cause of action, perhaps with minor variations, after it has been ruled upon, thereby imposing on defendants the burden of resisting claim after claim; that the claimant relies on essentially the same cause of action, perhaps with minor variations, after it has been ruled upon, in actions against successive parties who if they were to be sued at all should have been joined in the same action; that the claimant automatically challenges every adverse decision on appeal; and that the claimant refuses to take any notice of or give any effect to orders of the court. The essential vice of habitual and persistent litigation is keeping on and on litigating when earlier litigation has been unsuccessful and when on any rational and objective assessment the time has come to stop.”
9. The defendant has referred to Article 6 of the European Convention. The effect of that upon applications under section 42 was considered in the Court of Appeal in Ebert v Official Receiver and others  3 All ER 942. The court held, Buxton LJ presiding, that the procedure did not offend against Article 6. Buxton LJ stated, at paragraph 9:
“The detailed and elaborate procedures operated under s42 of the 1981 Act respect the important convention values that procedures relating to the assertion of rights should be under judicial rather than administrative control; that an order inhibiting a citizen’s freedoms should not be made without detailed inquiry; that the citizen should be able to revisit the issue in the context of new facts and new complaints that he wishes to make; and that each step should be the subject of a separate judicial decision. The procedures also respect proportionality in the general access to public resources, in that they seek to prevent the monopolisation of court services by a few litigants; an aim, and the national arrangements to implement it, that the Strasbourg organs, applying the doctrine of the margin of appreciation, are likely to respect.”
10. Each application must, of course, be considered on its own merits. It is not suggested that each of the vices identified in those statements of principle is present in each and all of the claims which form the basis of the present application. The defendant has brought at least 40 civil actions since 1995. There has been a wide variety of claims against a large number of persons and organisations. In three actions he has been successful; four of them he has lost on the merits- following an arguable case, at any rate in some cases put forward by him; several of the actions are continuing. Reference to them is, in my view, legitimate to consider the use which the applicant is seeking to make of the courts.
11. Fifteen actions have been struck out or summarily determined against the defendant on behalf of the Attorney. There has been prepared a helpful schedule of almost all the actions involved with a statement as to what has happened to them. With the help of Mr Kovats, the Court has considered the contents of the bundles and Mr Kovats has taken us to and through the papers relating to a good many of the actions concerned. A number of actions have been brought against Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise. They have attempted, and unsuccessfully attempted, to make the defendant bankrupt. However, he has brought repetitive actions seeking damages against them. Several actions have been brought against Mr Mazurek, a one-time business associate of the defendant who was the main prosecution witness when the defendant was prosecuted. He was acquitted upon that prosecution. Actions have been brought against the Royal Bank of Scotland based on a claim that, following a series of transactions, there should have been credits to his accounts which were not made. Actions have been brought against the police, the Chief Constable of Darbyshire and against the Greater Manchester force. Actions have been brought against the Alliance and Leicester Building Society concerning a mortgage, the latter of which appear to me to be an attempt to overcome a failure in the first action. Actions have been brought against solicitors who had acted for the defendant and against solicitors acting as a receiver. In a number of cases appeals have been brought when orders striking out the actions have been made. I do not propose to consider in detail the facts of the cases to which I have just referred and the basic facts and decisions which are set out in the schedule to which I have referred.
12. The defendant has shown a reflex action to events. He has commenced actions which, even if they have some basis, appear to be taken when other action by him to seek relief from those with whom he is in disagreement would have been more appropriate. One of the more recent actions illustrates that, though it has to be said that it is not known whether the action has been proceeded with. On 16th November 2000 his vehicle was clamped. Eight days later, on 24th November, he instituted a claim against the Manchester City Corporation for damages not exceeding £100,000.
13. The variety of defendants against whom he has brought proceedings will be clear from the brief summary I have given. Another feature is the very large sum of damages claimed in some cases. For example, in an action against HM Customs and Excise, commenced on 9th October 2000, the sum of £5 million is claimed. His attempt to particularise that claim only illustrates the extravagant and fanciful basis of it.
14. It has also been a feature of some of the actions to which we have been referred that the defendant has failed, having commenced the action, to take proper steps to explain what his claim is and to provide documentation essential to its prosecution. The claim at number 8 in the bundle, commenced against King Sturge and Company, was with the benefit of legal aid. It became a protracted proceeding which involved those concerned in a great deal of work. That was commenced in 1997. We have a statement dated 20th October 1999 from Mr Michael David Gapes. He refers in detail to the lack of co-operation of the claimant, by the latter stages acting in person in the litigation. Summary judgment was evidently given for the defendant on 22nd September 2000, after a great deal of work had been done, work the need for which had increased by the manner in which the claimant had conducted the litigation. Moreover, Mr Gates states, page 849, that:
“The claimant continues to correspond with the defendants directly. I have written to him several times asking him to desist, but my requests have been ignored. The defendants are becomingly increasing frustrated receiving this correspondence, particularly when it is sent to an address they vacated some years ago.”
15. There have been examples of failing to comply with orders of the Court. Incomplete information has, in some of the actions, been supplied. The end result, as I have indicated, is that in many of the actions brought there has been a summary disposal of the claim in favour of those who have been sued by the defendant. In some cases, because of the procedures he has followed, it has, however, taken a considerable time before the relief which the court considered them to be entitled was made available to them.
16. This case does not have all the mischiefs to which Lord Bingham CJ referred in the statement to which I have referred. It has not been a case of a litigant obsessed with a particular grievance which he perceives to exist and, as happens in some cases when application is made, when that obsession with a particular grievance against a particular opposing party is such that an order must be made. However, the mischiefs present in this case are equally inimical to the public interest. Indeed, it is the very range of the defendant’s litigation which, in my judgment, requires, in the circumstances I have indicated, that an order be made. It is a case where he has sued many people. He has failed to co-operate with the courts, and in many of the actions the courts have found that there was no merit in them. He has presented claims in an extravagant manner and with respect to certain claims has persisted in attempting to relitigate what had been decided against him.
17. What Buxton LJ stated in Ebert is, in my judgment, relevant to the present situation. The courts are available for the bringing of claims in good faith and for which the courts are the appropriate forum. The courts in this jurisdiction are very busy, and their time and resources must be used to serve the interests of the public as a whole and those who are prepared to come to the court with a genuine claim and with a claim that is pursued in a co-operative and sensible manner. That has been far from the approach which the defendant has adopted to these courts. He has, in my judgment, used the processes of the court in such a way as in fact to abuse them. His actions and the way he has conducted them have not been a proper use of the facilities available to members of the public. In my judgment, he has passed well over the line between what is a proper use of the courts and what, in the words of section 42, is the habitual and vexatious institution and prosecution of civil proceedings applications.
18. The defendant has not chosen to appear before the Court to justify his actions. On a consideration of the papers, I can see no reasonable grounds for the conduct he has followed in the many actions which he has brought in recent years. Considering, as Lord Parker CJ laid down, “the whole history of the matter”, I am satisfied that it is appropriate that the application of the Attorney-General should succeed and I would make the civil proceedings order which is sought.
MR JUSTICE POOLE: I agree. The overall pattern here is clear and it is one of frivolous, vexatious and abusive litigation. I would grant the application.
LORD JUSTICE PILL: Are there any applications, Mr Kovats?
MR KOVATS: Thank you, my Lord. No.
LORD JUSTICE PILL: We are grateful, and also for the care with which the bundles have been prepared.
MR KOVATS: Thank you.
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