IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICECO/105/2000
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Royal Courts of Justice
Tuesday 7th March 2000
B e f o r e:
LORD JUSTICE SCHIEMANN
MR JUSTICE DOUGLAS BROWN
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HER MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY GENERAL
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(Computer-aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
Smith Bernal Reporting Limited
180 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2HG
Telephone No: 0171-421 4040/0171-404 1400
Fax No: 0171-831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
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MR R JAY (instructed by TREASURY SOLICITORS, LONDON SW1H 9JS) appeared on behalf of the Applicant.
THE RESPONDENT APPEARED IN PERSON
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J U D G M E N T
(As approved by the Court)
1. LORD JUSTICE SCHIEMANN: Before the court is an application by Her Majestyís Attorney General, pursuant to section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981, directed at Mr Nicholas Stamoulakatos. Mr Stamoulakatos has addressed us in person, in English which was very understandable and we are grateful to him for taking the trouble to speak in what is his second language. He is a man who has come from Greece and spent his early life in Greece. He tells us that he left Greece, I think at the time of the Colonels, being a man who was strongly against that regime, and that he has come and settled in this country.
2. He raised a number of preliminary points in relation to this application, all of which, save one, I have dealt with in a judgment I delivered earlier on this morning. There is, however, one outstanding one which is this: that he made a point in relation to the authorisation of the application, which appears over the signature of Her Majestyís Solicitor General, that that signature is not notarised by a notary public and that it bears no official stamp. That is true, so far as we can see, but it is not a requirement under English law that any such document either be notarised or bear a stamp.
3. He made a further point, if I understood him correctly, that proceedings should have begun within 30 days of the giving of that certificate; again, that is not a requirement under our law.
4. The Attorney General applies for an order under section 42, namely an All Proceedings Order. The effect of such an order is: that no civil proceedings can be started without leave of a High Court judge; any civil proceedings already instituted by him, in any court, cannot be continued without the leave of a High Court judge; and that no application other than one for leave under this section can be made by him in any civil proceedings instituted in any court by any person without leave of the High Court. So far as the criminal proceedings are concerned it is an order that no information shall be laid before a Justice of the Peace, by Mr Stamoulakatos in the present case, without leave of the High Court and, similarly, no application for leave to prefer a bill of indictment shall be made without leave of the High Court.
5. But this court only has jurisdiction to make such an order if it is satisfied, as set out in section 42(1), which provides:
"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 or;
(c) instituted vexatious prosecutions (whether against the same person or different persons)."
6. And if the court is satisfied, and only if it is so satisfied, the court can make an All Proceedings Order. The applicant has addressed us at length and we have had the opportunity of seeing a certain difficulty that he has in concentrating on the crucial points at issue, but I think his broad position I can deal with relatively shortly.
7. The Attorney General, by means of an affidavit sworn by Miss Fiona Tyrell-Jackson on 11th January of this year, refers to a number of civil actions, some 20 in all, and a number of informations which have been laid in criminal proceedings, some 18 in all. Now those civil actions cover quite a long period of time against a number of different defendants, but it is quite clear, even from that list, that at least some of them had been successful. Others may well have been unsuccessful, but to bring an unsuccessful action is not necessarily to be vexatious; people are always losing actions without rendering themselves liable to this type of proceedings. So we have looked merely at some of them in detail in order see whether the Attorney General has proved his case.
8. I look firstly at the civil actions. For my part, as I indicated fairly early on to Mr Stamoulakatos, it seems reasonable to start relatively recently, in the context of Mr Stamoulakatosí litigation history, in the year 1993. That was an action, referred to as the ninth action, in which Mr Stamoulakatos sued the London Rent Assessment Panel. He brought a notice of motion before the Queenís Bench Division in which he sought a declaration that:
"(1) the Parliament of the UK has not the power to issue the above rent act,"
9. that is a reference to the Rent Act 1977,
"about registered tenants (1977) because the UK was a full member of European Council from 1966 and accept the European Convention of 4/11/1950 (Rome) and the article no 1 of protocol no 1 which provides the right of the owner of any property to use his property free as he decides..."
10. In short, he goes on a bit, but in substance it was an application to declare invalid the Rent Act 1977 as contravening, as I understand it, the first article of protocol (1) to the European Convention of Human Rights which deals with the right of property.
11. The Treasury Solicitor issued a notice of motion in those proceedings to have it struck out as disclosing no cause of action. That application was successful and the action was indeed struck out in circumstances where the applicant did not, apparently, even attend court.
12. Mr Stamoulakatos has sought, in front of us, to argue that that action was wrongly struck out, but he faces this problem, both in relation to this case and other cases in which he seeks to make the same point: that the Court of Appeal has decided in a case called Attorney General V Jones  1 W.L.R. 859, that it is not open to this court to consider again whether the striking out of an earlier action was the correct answer in law or not. The reasoning behind that is that the person whose action was struck out then, if he wished to challenge the correctness of that ruling should have appealed it. The position is set out at page 863 by Lord Donaldson of Lymington M.R. where he says:
"The fifth and last issue of law arose out of Mr Jonesí wish to challenge the conclusion of various judges in the underlying proceedings that his conduct in those particular proceedings had been vexatious or had involved an abuse of the process of the court. We rule that he was not free to do so. If any such conclusion was, or was thought by Mr Jones to be, erroneous, the remedy was to appeal in those proceedings or, where it was said that the judgment was vitiated by the fraud of other parties, to take appropriate steps to have the judgment set aside. But if that was not done, the decision must stand and is capable of forming the basis for the court being satisfied upon an application under section 42 that Mr Jones had habitually and persistently and without any reasonable ground acted in the manner referred to in (1)(a) and/or (b)."
13. It was an unfortunate failure by Mr Stamoulakatos to understand this, no doubt, which led him to produce for the court a very considerable number of documents indicating that an affidavit in one of the proceedings mentioned in the Attorney Generalís schedule, by a lady called Helen Santis, was full of inaccuracies, indeed he would go further and he would say deliberate lies. That may be so, we are not in a position to express a judgment on it. But the fact remains that this court must take as correct the judgments of other courts. In fact, little turns in the present application upon the action which is number 6, I think, in the Attorney Generalís schedule because that is a claim which was not struck out for being vexatious or for being manifestly ill-founded. So much for that point.
14. The tenth action in the Attorney Generalís list contains the following particulars in the claim made by Mr Stamoulakatos against Mr Clayton, Roger Green and Company Solicitors, Royal Life Estates Limited and the Abbey National Building Society, Sinton and Co. Solicitors and General Accident Properties Services Ltd. The particulars are set out as follows:
"1. We are a British charity/voluntary non government organisation/association...
2. Our council administrative gave authorizationto our members N. Stamoulakatos to buyproperties in the UK by auctions for branches, or to sell for income...
3. The first defendant via his solicitor (second defendant), and auctioneers... sold to us a house..."
15. The fifth defendant, sold us two flats, he says, and then he continues with the substance of the charge in paragraph five:
16. "All the defendants for illegal profit, (commission, legal fees), establishing a "silent conspiracy", about the bad condition of the above properties, (see below).
17. 6. The 4th defendant on the date 19/8/93 took order to stop above deposit (2 cheques), but, illegal, they paid by abuse of the power on the next day...
18. 7. All defendants, for the above common purpose, (profit)... refused to allow inspection before the completion date... or before the auction... respectively)."
19. And then he seeks cancellation of the contracts, return of the deposits and compensation. That claim appears to have been struck out by District Judge Morley but not, so far as the second, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants are concerned. Then in due course one sees that Circuit Judge Tibber was appealed to by the plaintiff, that is Mr Stamoulakatos. The Court of Appeal was asked to overrule the circuit judge, His Honour Judge Tibber. It appears from the application to Court of Appeal, as put together by Mr Stamoulakatos, that his Honour had struck out the application on the ground that "it discloses no reasonable grounds of appeal" and that "it is scandalous and vexatious" and "it is an abuse of the process of the court". It was sought by the applicant to appeal that, but we have not heard any more as to what happened to that notice of appeal.
20. The next action, the 11th action on the schedule, is another one brought by Mr Stamoulakatos, this time against a large number of defendants: the Metropolitan Police Commissioner; the Department of Social Security; another Department of Social Security in Greece; the London Borough of Hillingdon; the London Borough of Haringey; Royal Magistrates Court, including all judges, clerks and the staff; Central London County Court; the Crown Prosecution Service; the Lord Chancellorís Department; and the Law society. The legal grounds of the writ, as he puts it, are put this way by the claimant: EEC Treaty, article numbers 1 to 249, EEC and European Social Security Code, the Housing Act 1980 and 1992, the Local Government Act 1964, the United Nations Constitution of 1945, and he cites about 15 other sources. The nature of his complaint is a bit difficult to understand from the document which he has drawn but one sees references to
"Establishing a Masonic and Fascist gang...., Support to the military Junta....
False prosecution, arrest/detention with false warrant and magistratesí court decisions, 35 times, (innocent 35 times), of the plaintiff....
Reasons: our anti-fascism and anti-masonic positions."
21. And then he makes reference to usury and theft contributions and the establishment of a secret gang of policeman. It seems from the end of it that he is claiming £1,320,000 for the various causes of action, if they are such, set out in that document.
22. That action was struck out by District Judge Rose on 4th January 1994 and in due course the relevant circuit judge also struck out the appeal and the action and ordered the plaintiff to pay costs on an indemnity basis.
23. There are a variety of other actions which are set out against a variety of different respondents and which have been struck out, many of them as disclosing no cause of action, so far as one can see. I do not propose to read the lot of them. They are rather similar in many ways but one notes, for instance, that the 19th action, which was on 21st April 1998, District Judge Wakefield struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action. So there is a history of not merely unsuccessful civil litigation but, if one follows it through the documents as I have done, manifestly inappropriate forms of litigation which are impossible for any defendant to deal with. The claim is expressed in such a way that a defendant cannot sensibly plead to it.
24. So far as criminal proceedings are concerned the position is somewhat different in this sense: that in any event, as far as the material put before the court on behalf of the Attorney is concerned, although it goes back to 1991 and continues off and on until 20th December of 1999, it consists of what, if one stretches the point slightly, one can describe as informations which have been laid before the Magistratesí Courts, but nothing further has apparently been done in relation to those informations.
25. The position there is set out in the notes to section 1 of the Magistratesí Courts Act 1980 in Stoneís Justices Manual which indicates that an information in writing is laid when it is received at the office of the clerk to the justices for the relevant area. One is there referred to the case of R v Manchester Stipendiary Magistrates ex parte Hill 1 A.C. 328.
26. The informations are again in a rather unorthodox form and cover a whole variety of different matters which it is not necessary for me to go through in detail, but I should mention the last one, both because it is the most recent and because, in some ways, it is typical of Mr Stamoulakatosí style of litigation. It is headed: "Formal Complaint, "Disclose Gang" Application for Compensation, London, 20/12/1999". He lists 14 defendants which start with Her Majesty the Queen, moves through the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, the Royal Mail, the Parliamentary Commissioner, the Association of Foreign Press, the Department of Trade and Industry, the International Anti-masonic League for Human Rights of United Nations and a number of other bodies. The relief sought is described as follows:
27. (1) Investigation, (2) Seizure of the files of the accused, (3) Prosecution, imposed penalties, (stop promotion, sack the accused... stop salary, publication etc.), (4) Appearance on BBC, Internet Press, (5) Order the Post Office to pay the agreed compensation..."
28. And there is some more. Over the page he tells us: "What we claim... (£2,200 each)", and then the document goes on.
29. Putting that type of document before the clerk to the magistrates, which would normally have the result of summons being issued to all the persons named, including Her Majesty and the Cabinet, is something that gives rise to the present application. This was suggested as far back as 1993 by Gage J in one of the proceedings, so the Attorney has reflected on this matter with due deliberation in the five or six years which passed since then.
30. Now on the face of it, in my judgment, the documents disclosed by the Attorney do give grounds for holding that the conduct, in which Mr Stamoulakatos has indulged, falls within section 42(1). However, Mr Stamoulakatos makes a number of points. There were very many, they were rather scattered and they took several hours to make, but in substance, I think, they were threefold. The first was that the Attorney General in listing these various cases had not listed quite a number of other cases where Mr Stamoulakatos had succeeded to a greater or lesser degree. For my part, although we have not heard Mr Jay in reply, I would be quite content to accept that as true. So that is the first point that he makes.
31. The second point that he made was that some of the decisions were wrong decisions by the court because they had been misled by false evidence which had been given to that court. Again, for present purposes, we are in the position that we are governed by the case of Jones, which I have mentioned. Of course for my part again I am quite content to accept the possibility that some of the underlying material in relation to some of those actions misrepresented the truth, but, as is said in Jones, if it was sought to challenge the decision that was given in relation to those judgments that should have been done in some other way.
32. I, for my part, would reject entirely the implicit allegation that the Attorney General was trying to deceive court in keeping matter from it. The Attorney Generalís list does indeed include some cases, certainly one I remember, number 2, where the applicant was successful. He recovered possession, I think, in relation to some of them. It is, in my judgment, not fair of Mr Stamoulakatos to say that judgments have been kept secret or, in any event, he has not produced any such to us. He has shown us judgments which are not referred to by the Attorney General but they are not judgments that invalidate the material which has been put before us, so far as striking out is concerned.
33. We are, therefore, concerned not with the truth or falsity of evidence but the way in which the case is being presented by Mr Stamoulakatos. It is a way which makes litigation quite impossible for the other side because of his scatter gun approach. We have had presented to us many excerpts from what is purported to be and, as far as I could see, were judgments of the Greek courts. Mr Stamoulakatos has very kindly translated some of them to us in the course of his address and I am grateful to him for it. But it does not actually advance the matter very much so far as this present application is concerned. Let me give an example: one of the successes which Mr Stamoulakatos has had, apparently, is that he has persuaded the Commission of the European Court of Human Rights to accept a complaint which he made against the government of Greece. The Commission recommended a compromised settlement to the Greek government which, as I understand it from him and I think it seems right, actually then gave him some money, or offered to give him some money, thus indicating that it accepted, in any event for the purposes of that litigation, that it was at fault.
34. I reject the suggestion that the Attorney General is at fault in not bringing this matter to the attention of the court. It has not been indicated why he should have known about it or what relevance it has to the number of actions which have been struck out over the years.
35. Similarly, we have been taken by Mr Stamoulakatos to a number of documents in one of the cases which he says are hopelessly inaccurate and just show how the court has, time after time, been deceived in actions in which Mr Stamoulakatos has been involved. The first example he gave of this category of complaint was a letter from the Charity Commissioners, dated 13th August 1991, which was exhibited in an affidavit of the Helen Santis, to whom I have already referred. This letter says:
"Dear Mr Stamoulakatos. Central Registry of Charities. Thank you for your enquiry of todayís date. I regret that I have been unable to find any trace of the International League for Human Rights on the Central Register of Charities."
36. It is said that a letter of 22nd March 1985 from the Charity Commission shows conclusively the contrary. That letter which was handed up to us says this:
"To be acceptable for registration under the Charityís Act 1960 an organisation must be established for exclusively charitable purposes. Objects declared in the constitution of the above named organisation are political purposes. I would point out that political purposes are not considered to be charitable and hence this organisation cannot be considered to be established for exclusively charitable purposes and is therefore not acceptable for registration."
37. Well, far from indicating that the letter of 13th August 1991 which I have just read was incorrect, it seems to me that the letter of 22nd March 1985 lends support to that view. Not that it unduly matters in the context of the present case.
38. He took us to a variety of similar sorts of points, I mention one other. He showed us a document emanating from Companies House which sets out various companiesí names in, apparently, alphabetical order starting with International Instruments Limited and ending with International Investments and Securities Limited. He pointed out two things which are not mentioned: there are two organisations, one called Free International Observer (newspaper) and another one International Intelligence Publishing. He produced for us photocopies of what appeared to be certificates of registration dated 21st July 1980, but when one looks at them it is a registration of business names and it has nothing to do with the list of limited companies which are set out in the document from Companies House.
39. I fear that this confusion in Mr Stamoulakatosís mind is something which echoes time and time again through the documents which have been put in front of us and which appeared time and time again in the course of his submissions to us. For my part, having heard him, I am satisfied of the matters set out in section 42 and I, for my part, consider it expedient to make the order asked for, namely an All Proceedings Order.
40. MR JUSTICE DOUGLAS BROWN: I agree. So far as the civil proceedings are concerned, I would refer to the judgment of the Lord Chief Justice in Her Majestyís Attorney General V Barker, the judgment delivered February 16th this year, and reported in The Times for 7th March, where Lord Bingham said this:
"The hallmark of a vexatious proceeding is...that it has little or no basis in law...;that whatever the intention...its effect is to subject the defendant to inconvenience, harassment and expense out of all proportion to any [likely] gain...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."
41. Those observations apply to most, but not all, of the cases illustrated in the Attorney Generalís schedule. There has to be, following a finding such as that, an exercise of discretion and I unhesitatingly agree with my Lord that the discretion should be exercised in favour of the grant of the order asked for.
42. This is an all proceedings application, and the criminal material is of a different kind in the sense that none of the informations laid led to the issue of a summons, but potentially they were of immense inconvenience to the potential defendants chosen on, what seems to be, a scatter gun basis. I need only refer to one of the criminal proceedings relied on and that is an information received by the Haringey Magistratesí Court on 30th March 1995 where the defendants were three Lord Justices of Appeal, six High Court judges, a circuit judge and a Queens Bench master who were alleged to have committed, amongst other offences, violation of duty, espionage and forgery. There are a number of similar instances in the schedule, though none have as many members of the judiciary cited. I am satisfied on all the material laid before us by the Attorney General, notwithstanding Mr Stamoulakatosís submissions to us, that there should here be an All Proceedings Order indefinitely.
43. LORD JUSTICE SCHIEMANN: We know we have power to make the order for a limited period and that power is sometimes exercised if there is any indication that that would be all that is required on the facts of the case, but as far as I am concerned the present order ought to be for an indefinite duration, actions having gone on for a number of years.
44. MR JUSTICE DOUGLAS BROWN: I agree.
45. LORD JUSTICE SCHIEMANN: Thank you very much, both of you.
46. THE RESPONDENT: My Lord, leave to appeal please? My right for leave to appeal?
47. LORD JUSTICE SCHIEMANN: No, we shall not give you leave to appeal.
48. THE RESPONDENT: Yes, just to put in it the judgment, thank you.
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