IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE CO/2286/97
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
Royal Courts of Justice
Monday, 2nd March 1998
B e f o r e:
LORD JUSTICE PILL
MR JUSTICE GAGE
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HER MAJESTY’S ATTORNEY-GENERAL
ION CURTIS ROACH
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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 4040/0171-404 1400
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Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
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MR R TAM (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor, London SW1H 9JS appeared on behalf of the Applicant.
THE RESPONDENT appeared in person.
J U D G M E N T
(As approved by the Court)
Monday, 2nd March 1998.
MR JUSTICE GAGE:
This is an application made on the authority of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General under section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981, as amended by the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. The Attorney-General seeks a civil proceedings Order against the Respondent, Ion Curtis Roach, in the terms of the Notice of Motion set out in the document. The Orders sought are:
“1. No civil proceedings shall without the leave of the High Court be instituted by you in any Court.
2. Any civil proceedings instituted by you in any Court before the making of this Order shall not be continued by you without the leave of the High Court.
3. No application (other than an application for leave under Section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981) shall without the leave of the High Court be made by you in any civil proceedings instituted, whether by you, or another, in any Court.”
In summary, the ground upon which the Attorney relies is that between 1988 and 1997 the Respondent had started proceedings in no less than 11 High Court actions. In nine of those actions the Respondent’s claims were struck out; the remaining two proceeded to trial and the claims rejected. Even now, in paragraph 5 of his affidavit sworn in these proceedings in response to this application, the Respondent states:
“My writs have been struck out by the abuse of process of the courts and it is my intention to petition The House of Lords that the abuse should be noticed.”
The Respondent’s case, in summary, is that he is the victim of gross misconduct by individuals within the State. In resisting this application he states that it is his only way of drawing attention to the fact that he had been the victim of such gross misconduct which he describes as a conspiracy.
At the outset of this hearing the Respondent agreed that the matter be heard by the court as it is presently constituted, notwithstanding that both myself and Pill LJ have been concerned in some of the interlocutory proceedings in two of the actions.
Mr Tam, who appears on behalf of the Attorney-General, has helpfully summarised the law in his skeleton argument. The jurisdiction for the court in making an Order sought appear in section 42(1) of the Supreme Court Act 1981. In the material parts it 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
“(b) made vexatious applications in any civil
proceedings, whether in the High Court
or any inferior court, and whether
instituted against by him or another; or
the court may, after hearing that person or giving him an opportunity of being heard, make a civil proceedings order ...”
Accordingly, the two issues for this court on this application are those which are set out by Mr Tam in his skeleton argument on the second page, which are:
“1. Is the Court satisfied that the respondent has habitually and persistently and without reasonable ground instituted vexatious civil proceedings or made vexatious applications in civil proceedings?
2. If so, should the Court exercise its discretion to make a civil proceedings order?”
It is for the Attorney-General to prove that an Order should be made and the standard of proof is the civil standard. Mr Tam submits that the primary factors with which the court is concerned when considering whether litigation is vexatious, are as follows:
“(i) the manner in which the litigation was
(ii) the number of applications and actions;
(iii) the general character of the applications
and actions and their outcome;
(iv) the broad history of the course of the respondent’s litigation.”
Mr Tam culls those factors from various authorities which he sets out in his skeleton argument and, for my part, I accept them.
It is also clear that when considering whether the litigation is vexatious the court must look at the matter objectively.
I turn now to the individual actions and I shall refer to them by the numbers set out in the affidavits sworn on behalf of the Attorney-General. I should add that the task of assimilating detail of the actions and their histories has been made a great deal easier by the very helpful way in which the documents have been presented to the court by the Treasury Solicitor. In addition, in his skeleton argument, prepared for the court, Mr Tam has summarised the Orders in each of the actions by way of chronologies.
Action No. 1
The first action is an action between the Respondent and the Oxfordshire Health Authority. The Statement of Claim was issued on 24th March 1988. It alleged personal injuries to the Plaintiff’s eyes (ie the Respondent’s eyes) resulting from the negligence of the Oxfordshire Health Authority. The Statement of Claim sets out 13 different acts of the defendant relied upon by the Respondent between August 1961 and mid-1974. The chronology shows that the defence was served on 27th July 1988 and raised a limitation issue. Master Walden ordered that the preliminary issue be tried relating to limitation.
In his reply the Respondent made a number of allegations in relation to the limitation. The flavour of those matters is contained in the reply at paragraph 6(iv):
“That Solicitor Arthur Cuthbert Langham Junior of Macdonald Stacey was party to the conspiracy to harm Plaintiff even unto his death, and withheld advice as to a Protective Writ of Summons when receiving a statement from the Plaintiff of the 19th July 1981, now in the hands of Field Fisher Martineau, indicates the extent of the conspiracy to conceal the truth.
There being good reason for this, that Arthur Cuthbert Langham Junior is himself dishonest and forger of the Will of the Great Uncle of the Plaintiff, Edward Albert Curtis deceased.
Which is also a further reason for the attack with anaesthetic by the anaesthetist upon the Plaintiff the 5th February 1974. ...”
It will be immediately apparent that the conspiracy theory is raised at that stage in that action. On 10th May 1989 Drake J tried the preliminary issues and struck the action out. There followed various interlocutory matters.
On 16th January 1990 the Plaintiff’s appeal from an Order for security for costs was dismissed by Glidewell LJ. On 6th March 1990 the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal from the Order of Glidewell LJ. On 22nd March 1990 the Court of Appeal dismissed the application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords which had been made by the Respondent.
Notwithstanding that Order, in July 1996 the Respondent gave notice of intention to proceed and in August issued a summons for Order 14 summary judgment. He further issued a notice of intention to proceed, following a gap of some 10 years. In September 1996 Master Rose dismissed the application for summary judgment. In October 1996 Morland J dismissed the appeal from the Order of Master Rose and, in May 1997, the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal from the Order of Morland J and application for leave to petition the House of Lords was refused.
Action No. 2
This is an action by the Respondent against MacDonald Stacey, a firm of solicitors. The Writ and Statement of Claim was issued on 5th October 1988. The details can be found in the documents at page 263. The writ sets out the following:
“The Plaintiff’s claim is for DAMAGES AND PERSONAL INJURY AND LOSS ARISING FROM THE NEGLIGENT PREPARATION OF THE PAPERS OF EDWIN ALBERT CURTIS DECEASED, REFERRED TO AS E.A. CURTIS’S AS LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, AND HE BEING THE GREAT UNCLE OF THE PLAINTIFF AS RESIDUARY LEGATEE, AND CONSPIRACY BY THOSE NAME BELOW ...”
Then set out are various names of an individual, “ARTHUR CUTHBERT LANGHAM JUNIOR, EXECUTOR & CO-TRUSTEE OF THE E.A. CURTIS ESTATE...” and a number bodies: the National Westminster Bank, the Legal and General Assurance Society and various other bodies, ending up with the Oxfordshire Health Authority.
The history of that action in the material part was as follows. In October 1988 a summons was taken out by the defendants to strike out the action. In December 1988 Master Prebble ordered that the action be struck out. That Order, was appealed but the appeal was dismissed by MacPherson J in February 1991. He refused leave to appeal and at an oral hearing, in July 1991, Farquharson LJ refused leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. The Respondent persisted and, in July 1991, the Court of Appeal dismissed his application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords. In November 1991 the Appeal Committee at the House of Lords refused leave to appeal.
Once again, as in the first action, following a gap of some five years, the Respondent issued a summons for Order 14 summary judgment. That was issued in April 1996. In May 1996 Master Prebble dismissed the summons under Order 14. The Respondent appealed, but on 16th May 1996 Sir John Wood dismissed that appeal. An application was made to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal and for the extension of time. In November 1996 the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal and barred any further applications without leave and ordered that the Attorney-General be notified of those Orders.
Action No. 3
The third action was an action by the Respondent against the Oxfordshire Health Authority. The Writ and Statement of Claim was issued on 6th October 1988. The Statement of Claim states:
“The Plaintiff’s claim is for damages arising from the negligent and cruel demise of his mother, Florence Patricia Roach nee Curtis, by the premeditation of the staff at the Radcliffe Infirmary, The hospital premises at Oxford of the Defendant, on the day of that most cruel event, the 17th April 1977, my mother being formerly of Marston Court, Haberton Mead, Marston, Oxford.”
The Particulars in paragraph 1 go on:
“On the demise of my mother’s uncle, Edwin Albert Curtis, on 10th of December 1951, he being the true brother of her father, Horace Beaufort Curtis, Arthur Cuthbert Langham, solicitor of Macdonald Stacey, situate at Kidd Rapinet, Solicitors, 14-15 Craven Street, WC2N 5AD, falsified the last papers of my granduncle Edward for the purpose of theft of his former client’s, my granduncle’s, property. ...”
That gives a flavour of the nature of the claim. Damages are claimed under four heads for a total sum of £595,000: damages due to disinheritance; the loss of family and home, loss of 10 years earnings and necessary remedial measures to the right and left eyes.
In December 1993 Master Miller struck out the Respondent’s claim both for the death his mother and for injury to his eye.
In February 1994 I dismissed the Respondent’s appeal from the Order of Master Miller and in the following month refused leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. In November 1994 the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal. Later, on 21st November of that year, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Respondent’s application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
In 1996 the Respondent issued a summons under Order 14. That was dismissed in January 1996 by Master Murray, and an appeal against that Order of Master Murray was dismissed by Sachs J on 6th February 1996. There were then further interlocutory proceedings which culminated in an Order by the Court of Appeal in November 1996 when it refused leave to appeal and barred any further applications without leave, again ordering that the Attorney-General be notified of those Orders. Finally, in January 1997, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Respondent’s application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
Action No. 4
That is an action between Respondent and LS Millard. The claim was expressed as a claim for damages for negligent dental treatment. The claim is expressed in these terms:
“... damages arising from negligent dental treatment performed by the defendant dentist LS Millard, over a period from 1980 to January 1981.
The Plaintiff’s date of the knowledge of the negligent treatment being 1st quarter 1989 (section 14 of the Limitation Act refers).”
The Writ and Statement of Claim was issued on 26th April 1991. In May 1991 the Respondent obtained judgment in default of acknowledgment of service, but that judgment was set aside by Master Turner in August 1991. A defence was filed by the defendant which raised limitation as an issue.
There then followed numerous interlocutory proceedings and Orders. In due course, in July 1993, Master Topley ordered that the matter be tried and set the action down for trial.
In February 1994 the further action was heard by His Honour Judge Marr Johnson sitting as a judge of the High Court. He entered judgment for the defendant with costs. In April 1994 the Respondent issued a Notice of Appeal with an application to adduce further evidence.
In February 1995 the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and the application to adduce further evidence, and refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords. In March 1995 Kay J dismissed the Respondent’s application for an interlocutory injunction “until the trial” pending appeal to the House of Lords. In November 1995 Dyson J refused an extension of time for leave to appeal and refused leave to appeal. On 24th November 1995 Master Hodgson dismissed the Respondent’s application for Order 14 judgment and ordered that no further summonses be issued in the action. In December 1995 Smedley J dismissed the appeal from the Order of Master Hodgson.
In April 1996 the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal from the Order of Smedley J and the Order of Dyson J. In July 1996 the Court of Appeal dismissed the Respondent’s application to appeal to the House of Lords.
Notwithstanding that Order, throughout 1997 the Respondent continued to apply to the court for various Orders. On each occasion his applications were refused and he appealed to the Court of Appeal. The final Notice of Appeal was filed on 12th January 1998, that being a Notice of Appeal against Orders made on 24th November 1995 by Master Hodgson and 18th December 1997 by Master Turner. We have not been told whether those matters have been adjudicated on.
Action No. 5
This is an action between the Plaintiff and the British Railways Board. The Writ and Statement of Claim was issued on 17th December 1993. The incident has been referred to in a press cutting as the “tie-straighening” incident. The Statement of Claim is expressed by the Respondent thus:
“The Plaintiff’s claim is for damages under the Law of Tort: trespass against the person, by threat, delivered by assault, causing actual bodily harm, by an employee of the Defendant. The tort taking place on Monday the 11th of October 1993 at around 3-15 pm in the afternoon, towards 3-00 o’clock, at the Travel Centre of the Defendant.”
It is necessary only for the purposes of this judgment to refer to paragraphs (i) to (iii) of paragraph 1 of the Particulars. They read:
“All at their railway station, British Rail, Station Square, Coventry CV1 2GT
1. I purchased my ticket, for travel the following day, at their Travel Centre.
(i) After the transaction, the male counter-clerk slipped from my view.
(ii) I then sensed something occurring to my righthand side, and shied away to my left, and heard the words, ‘Let me!’ I was transfixed. (iii) The counter-clerk had apparently straightened my tie, and either climbing or leaning over his counter barrier in order to do so. ...”
The Statement of Claim claims damages in the total sum of just over £700,000.
The history of the matter shows that that was an action which proceeded to trial. The trial was heard by His Honour Judge Wilson in October 1994. He entered judgment for the defendant with costs and, in November 1994, he refused leave to appeal.
In June 1995 the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal, and in July 1995 the court refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
In August 1996 the Respondent served a notice of intention to proceed and issued a summons in October 1996 for Order 14 judgment. That application under Order 14 was dismissed by Master Turner on 17th October 1996. It is apparent from some of the documents filed by the Respondent in those proceedings that at some stage during the course of it he raised allegations of conspiracy.
Action No. 6
This is an action between the Respondent and the West Midlands Regional Health Authority. The Writ and Statement of Claim was issued on 6th March 1990. The Plaintiff (ie the Respondent) claimed damages for the negligence and conspiracy for what were alleged to be spurious eye examinations. The chronology shows that in October 1990 District Judge Grant struck out the Statement of Claim as scandalous, frivolous and vexatious. In November 1990 His Honour Judge Francis Allen sitting as a Judge of the High Court upheld the Order of District Judge Grant, but amended the endorsement of the Statement of Claim. Accordingly, a fresh Statement of Claim was served.
In August 1993 His Honour Judge Nicholl dismissed the Respondent’s application for want of prosecution. In March 1994 the Court of Appeal refused an application by the Respondent for an extension of time to appeal the Order of His Honour Judge Nicholl.
In May 1994 the Court of Appeal dismissed the Respondent’s application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords. In July 1994 the Appeal Committee at the House of Lords refused the Plaintiff’s application for leave to appeal.
In February 1995 a second application by the Respondent to the House of Lords for leave to appeal was not accepted by the Judicial Office.
In October 1996 the Respondent issued a notice of intention to proceed, and in November, the following month, issued a summons for Order 14 judgment. In December 1996 Master Murray dismissed the application for Order 14 judgment and, in January 1997, he ordered that there be no further applications save for an application for leave to appeal made on 30th December 1996.
That Order was appealed by the Respondent, but the appeal was dismissed by Kay J in July 1997. A further summons was heard by Master Murray for an Order for “necessary treatment” to the Respondent’s eyes and orders that the Respondent make applications without paying costs that were then outstanding. A Notice of Appeal was issued in January 1998 against Master Murray’s Order in respect that have matter.
Action No. 7
This is an application against the former employers of the Respondent, namely the BBC. The Writ and Statement of Claim was issued on 16th January 1995. The claim arose out of his employment by the BBC which occurred in the 1970s. The claim was expressed as for harassment, calumny, conspiracy and an attack by the defendant, the BBC. The chronology shows that in February 1995 Master Prebble struck out the Statement of Claim and dismissed the action. In March 1995 Alliott J dismissed the Respondent’s appeal against Master Prebble’s Order and in July 1995 the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal. In October 1995 the Court of Appeal dismissed the Respondent’s application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords. There were then numerous further interlocutory applications, all of them, so far as the Respondent was concerned, unsuccessful.
In November 1996 the Court of Appeal refused leave to the Respondent to appeal from an Order of 6th February 1996 of Sachs J which barred further applications without leave and ordered that the matter be drawn to the attention of the Attorney-General.
Action No. 8
This is an action by the Respondent against the National Westminster Bank. It alleges negligence against the bank in the administration of his great uncle’s estate between 10th December 1951 and the date of the writ which was 1st March 1995. In August 1995, following service of the Statement of Claim, Master Chism struck out the Writ and Statement of Claim, the Respondent having at the same time issued an Order 14 application. On the same day the Respondent issued a Notice of Appeal against that Order.
On 12th October 1995 Moore-Bick J dismissed the Respondent’s appeal from the Order of Master Chism and refused leave to appeal. In November 1995 the Respondent issued a summons for delivery up of the original Notice of Appeal from an Order of District Judge Litchfield dated 2nd October 1995. As far as we know, there has been no further adjudication in that case.
Action No. 9
This is an action against the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis. It is a claim for damages for negligence; expressed as dereliction of duty in failing to take action against Arthur Cuthbert Langham, a solicitor, his crimes being forgery, theft, conspiracy and incitement to murder. The Writ and Statement of Claim was issued on the 9th February 1993.
On 22nd March 1993 Master Tennant struck out the Statement of Claim and dismissed the action as disclosing no cause of action. That was appealed and, on 29th April 1993, Waterhouse J dismissed the appeal from the Order of Master Tennant and in May refused leave to appeal. During the course of those proceedings, he set out the background to this litigation in his judgment. I shall refer to that judgment a little later. In October 1993 the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal, and in December 1993 a petition for leave to appeal to the House of Lords was refused by the Appeal Committee of the House of Lords.
A second petition to the House of Lords for leave to appeal was made by the Respondent in February 1995, but was not accepted by the Judicial Office.
In October 1996 the Respondent gave notice of intention to proceed. In January 1997 he issued a summons for an Order 14 summary judgment. That summons was dismissed by Master Tennant in February 1997 and, in April 1997, Longmore J dismissed an appeal from the Order of Master Tennant. On 11th December 1997 the Court of Appeal dismissed the Respondent’s application for leave to appeal against the Order of Longmore J. In January 1998 the Court of Appeal dismissed the Respondent’s application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
Action No. 10
This is an action against the Oxfordshire County Council. It is expressed as a claim for negligent education by the Oxfordshire County Council of the Respondent between 1939 and 1942. The writ was issued on 24th December 1996. When the matter came before Master Murray on 12th May 1997, on the Respondent’s Order 14 summons and the defendant’s summons to strike it out, the learned Master struck out the claim and ordered the defendant to serve a copy of his Order on the Attorney-General. An appeal against that Order of Master Murray was dismissed on 10th June 1997.
Action No. 11
Finally, the Attorney-General in his evidence refers to the 11th action, an action between the Respondent and the Chief Constable of the Thames Valley Police, named as Charles Pollard. The Writ and Statement of the Claim was issued on 15th July 1997. The Statement of Claim alleges that the defendant was negligent in dereliction of duty and guilty of conspiracy. The conspiracy allegation involved the allegations of the conspiracy with a number of the defendants in the other proceedings as well as other named individuals.
The chronology of that action shows that in August 1997 Master Murray ordered that the Statement of Claim be struck out. The Respondent appealed that Order and the appeal was heard by Ebsworth J on 21st October 1997. She dismissed the appeal from the Order of Master Murray and refused the Respondent leave to appeal. We have been told by the Respondent that he withdrew his appeal. In June 1997 an ex parte Order of Master Murray dismissed the action. In November 1997 a fresh Statement of Claim was issued. In December 1997 Holland J dismissed the Respondent’s appeal from the Order of Master Murray of 6th June 1997 and refused leave to appeal.
We have been told today that on 19th February of this year leave to appeal Ebsworth J’s Order was refused, and the Court of Appeal also refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
During the course of these proceedings the Respondent has referred the court to three further actions by him. The only details before the court of those actions are that they involved three other defendants, namely Sotheby & Co, the Lord Chancellor’s Department (in the shape of the Coventry County Court) and the Black Lion Hotel. We have no further details of those actions.
Before us the Respondent cannot and does not dispute the histories of the actions. In his skeleton argument he sets out the genesis of the actions in the following terms. In paragraph 1 he says:
“(i) Upon perusal of my writs it can be seen that I am a victim of the state.
The reasons are not obscure. Roughly half a century ago my greatuncle Edwin Albert Curtis lived and he would have been referred to as a man of property. His solicitors were Langham and Letts of 9 Ely Place, EC1 and his bankers were the Westminster Bank Limited. He demised at 77 The Drive, Hove, Sussex, a nursing home, on the 10th December 1951.
(ii) His trust was betrayed by those officers who reasonably could have been expected to look after his affairs. ...
(iii) The poor man’s papers were fraudulently produced as his last will and testament, and his demise at 86 years of age must be deemed suspect.
(iv) His solicitor helped himself to his former home, property and possessions. His crime was carefully done ...
(v) The man who masterminded the plot, Arthur Cuthbert Langham, gave his name to his son when born, with fraud in mind. This was around the turn of the century when the Curtis family lived at 20 Elgin Crescent, W11 and owned property at Ventnor, Isle of White.
2(i) The conspiracy to defraud was far reaching and has spanned almost a century.”
That background was referred to in greater detail by Waterhouse J in his judgment in the ninth action. In his judgment Waterhouse J said at page 3F (page 1,077 of the documents before us):
“He is a man who was born on 15th December 1926, so that he is now 66 years old. He was formally a hydraulics engineer and remained in employment until 1984. Since then he has been obsessed with his own personal position both financially and physically, and his concerns have centered particularly on his position in relation to certain wills and trusts arising under documents made by former members of his family. In particular, he has attributed his present financial circumstances to serious wrong-doing on the part of a solicitor called Arthur Cuthbert Langham, Junior, who is now thought to be 87 to 88 years old. I refer to him a ’Arthur Cuthbert Langham, Junior’, because his father also figured in the history briefly and was also a solicitor.
The subject matter of the present litigation has been considered by the Court before in proceedings because the Plaintiff’s concerns became focussed in or about the year 1985, and in the spring of 1987 he received what appears to have been a final payment in relation to his interest in a family trust Fund. Thereafter, he issued a Writ on 5th October 1988, against a firm of solicitors called MacDonald Stacey, and in the Statement of Claim served in that action he made a wide variety of allegations against Mr Langham, Junior. It is unnecessary for me to summarise the contents of that Statement of Claim because there is a typed copy available and the allegations are reasonably clear.
The history of that action is that the defendant solicitor firm of solicitors pleaded that the action was statute-barred and that plea was upheld “by this Court. The Plaintiff pursued the matter to the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords and the decision of the House of Lords, affirming the judgments below, was given on 20th November 1991.
The Plaintiff then decided that he should approach the police about the activities of Mr Langham, Junior, and, as I understand the position, he approached initially the West Midlands Police, who dealt with the matter - not surprisingly - by suggesting to the Plaintiff that any complaint he had would be more appropriately directed to the Chief of Police for the area nearest to where Macdonald Stacey, or certainly Mr Langham, Junior, was in practice.
Accordingly, the Plaintiff’s wrote on 5th February 1992 to the Chief Constable (as he was described) of the Metropolitan Police at Bow Street Police Station. I have before me a copy of the letter that he wrote. He referred to the decision of the House of Lords in the previous action and went on: ‘However, solicitor, Arthur Cuthbert Langham, Junior, is a thief and forger of the papers of my grand-uncle Edwin, they being referred to falsely as his last ’Will and Testament’, the falsification enabling Langham, Junior, to steal for himself my late grand-uncle’s former home, Ivy Cottage, at Ingham, Stalham, in Norfolk, together with the property at 194 Fulham Road, London, SW10, and Trust Funds, he being the substantive executor, and also the incitement of others to murder, maiming and conspiracy. MacDonald Stacey, solicitor, as stated, stand in lieu of solicitor, Arthur Cuthbert Langham, Junior, formerly of Langham Letts, 9 Ely Place, EC1; then to Pontefract Pitt Langhams, Holborn; thence to MacDonald Stacey, 7&8 King’s Bench Walk, Temple, EC4Y 7DP, but now currently with Kid, Rapinet, solicitors, 14 to 15 Craven Street, London, WC2M 5AB, and his private address being the address as given at Cobham, Surrey. Langham’s crimes are of foulest, not least of which being the torture of my lovely mother, Florence Patricia Roach (nee Curtis) her lifetime, and her murder on 17th April 1977, and all by the incitement of others, she receiving a life interest in my granduncle’s estate with myself as a residuary legatee. And also the murder in 1955 of my pseudo-aunts, the Misses Lily and Nellie Evans of South Side, Weston-super-Mare, for the theft of their property, situated in Elgin Crescent, Ladbroke, Grove, W11, and concerted conspiracy against “‘myself ever since my birth. The West Midlands Police have advised that a course of action would be to attend a police station in the vicinity where the acts of the allegations took place, and it is my intention to substantiate the foregoing person.’
I do not have before me any response from the Commissioners to that letter, but the new development was that the Plaintiff issued the Writ in the present action."
“The writ” is one to which I have previously referred.
Finally, in the last paragraph of his skeleton argument the Respondent makes it clear, in these terms, as to what he intends, so far as the future is concerned and in relation to this application by the Attorney-General. He says:
“To be prosecuted by the state that it should stifle my objections to acts by individuals within the system has to be deplored as unfair and unreasonable and must be deemed a breach of trust by the state for choosing such a course.
(ii) It is hoped to present the whole of the foregoing in the House of Lords that they should notice the efforts of the state by the abuse of process to strike out my writs.
(iii) My Lords, with respect, what may be considered is a summing of the damage in financial terms that I should then be rescued to continue my life in as peaceful a manner as possible, rather than the consideration of my Lords to declare me a vexatious litigant.”
It is perfectly clear that the Respondent feels very strongly about the matters which are the subject of these actions. He expressed to this court the view that in pursuing the litigation he had no intention of acting vexatiously or maliciously. His view, no doubt sincerely held, is that the claims were perfectly genuine claims and that he has been the victim of a gigantic conspiracy. The extent of that alleged conspiracy is set out in the documents at page 254 in diagrammatic form. We were told by the Respondent that he prepared the diagram in 1985 and since then the conspiracy has widened. He says that the named conspirators are motivated by financial gain. His complaint is that the majority of these actions have not been heard on the merits because they have been dismissed on grounds that they are brought outside the periods of limitation applicable in each case. He asserts that the facts have been concealed by the conspirators and that for that reason the limitation periods should be disapplied.
The history of the litigation shows that whenever the court strikes out his actions or gives judgments against him, the Respondent seeks to reinstate the proceedings by instituting further summonses most commonly under Order 14 or by way of appeal. These further summonses and appeals have been dismissed by the courts, either as hopeless or devoid of merit. In short, it is apparent from the history of the matter that the Respondent is quite unable to take no for an answer. What is more, in my judgment, everything that he has said to this court today has only served to underline this. Because of his sincerely held views that his actions are genuine claims he appears to be quite unable to accept that anything that he has done in pursuit of them has been vexatious.
However, in my judgment, the following general comments
are applicable to these actions:
(i) the actions themselves have all either been struck out or rejected. The majority have all the hallmarks of being hopeless actions, either because they are brought outside the period of limitation or are in themselves without merit;
(ii) each action demonstrates the Respondent’s capacity for making innumerable interlocutory applications;
(iii) the character of the litigation is that of an obsessive pursuit by the Respondent of an alleged wide-ranging conspiracy. In each action, almost inevitably at some stage in the pleadings, there is reference to “the conspiracy”. The outcome of the litigation and the summonses is invariably unsuccessful from the Respondent’s point of view;
(iv) as I have already indicated, the Respondent is quite unable to accept adverse decisions in the litigation. He has made applications once the litigation has been struck out or his claims rejected on the merits.
In the circumstances, I unhesitatingly conclude that the Respondent has habitually and persistently without reasonable ground instituted vexatious civil proceedings and has made vexatious applications in those civil proceedings. In my judgment, the histories of each these proceedings speak for themselves.
Notwithstanding the Respondent’s strongly and, I accept, sincerely held feelings, I also conclude that this court should exercise its discretion to make the Orders sought in the Notice of Motion. It seems to me that unless such Orders are made the Respondent will continue to try to resurrect the existing proceedings and also to bring new proceedings. It is to be noted that in the documents prepared for the purposes of this application, he refers to an action “to be issued”.
Accordingly, for my part, I would grant the Orders sought.
LORD JUSTICE PILL: I agree. Mr Roach has fully set out in writing the reasons for opposing the application of the Attorney-General and has addressed the court on the subject with clarity and courtesy. However, there comes a point when persistent attempts to use the processes of the court, in face of adverse rulings, to seek relief for grievances, even if genuinely felt, becomes vexatious within the meaning of section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981. It is, in my judgment, well established on the evidence that the point has been reached in Mr Roach’s case. I have full regard to the seriousness of the issue at stake. While having such regard, I am satisfied that the criteria set out in section 42(1) of the Act are satisfied and also that the court should exercise its discretion to make a civil proceedings Order under that section.
Gage J has set out the history of the litigation in which Mr Roach has been involved. I agree with the reasoning of Gage J and with his conclusions. Accordingly, a civil proceedings Order will be made.
MR TAM: May I invite your Lordships to make the Orders as sought in the Notice of Motion. Turning to the question of costs, it is traditional that no Order for costs is applied for. I invite your Lordships to make no Order as to costs.
There is one further matter that I should draw to your Lordships’ attention. May I invite your Lordships to go in the White Book, Volume 1 page 960? It is Ord.59, r.1B and it is subparagraph (h). I raise the point at this stage simply so that if Mr Roach wishes to make an application it might be more convenient if done today rather than at some other time when the court is no longer sitting in this constitution.
LORD JUSTICE PILL: Yes. You do not have the White Book in front of you, Mr Roach. What the section states is under the heading: “Classes of case where leave to appeal is required (O.15, r.1B”:
“The classes of case prescribed for the purposes of section 18(1A) of the Act (appeals subject to leave) are the following ...”
-- and at (h), in what is a long list, it reads:
“Orders under section 42(1) of the Supreme Court Act 1981 restriction of vexatious legal proceedings.”
Do you have any applications?
THE RESPONDENT: I do. If my Lord would permit me to appeal the present ruling -- is that what my Lord is saying?
LORD JUSTICE PILL: As Mr Tam pointed out, you need leave and, also, it is appropriate, first, if you want to seek leave you first seek it from this court.
THE RESPONDENT: I do seek leave. I do apply. I cannot agree. I beg it, with the greatest respect to the court. There are certain limitations on the matter, but I cannot agree with the court’s rulings and I wish to appeal. I make an application to seek leave.
LORD JUSTICE PILL: Mr Tam?
MR TAM: My Lord, I oppose that.
LORD JUSTICE PILL: We will retire to consider that application.
RULING AS REGARDS LEAVE TO APPEAL AND COSTS
LORD JUSTICE PILL: We will make an Order under section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 as prayed. There will be no Order as to costs. Leave to appeal is refused.
THE RESPONDENT: Thank you, my Lords.
Attorney General v Roach (Court of Appeal)
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