Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED October 29, 2003

The claimant's particulars of claim would be struck out as the claim for professional negligence had no real prospect of success and was an abuse of process because the issues had already been litigated in previous unsuccessful actions brought by the claimant against different defendants.Applications by the defendants: (i) to strike out the action brought by the claimant ('P') on the basis that there were no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim, or that they were an abuse of process; and alternatively, (ii) for summary judgment on the basis that P's claim had no real prospect of success. All defendants based their application to strike out the claim on the decision in Secretary of State for Trade and Industry v Bairstow (2003) 3 WLR 841 as all the issues raised by P in the action against them had been adjudicated upon in the other cases brought by P against other firms of solicitors and barristers and it was, therefore, an abuse of the process for P to be permitted to relitigate the same matters against them. The many applications brought by P were in relation to the alleged maladministration of his uncle's will and the subsequent legal advice P had received. The first defendants ('IBB') were retained in about April 1993 and disinstructed in June 1993. The second defendants ('B') were then instructed in about July 1993 to advise P and represent him in the event that the third defendant barrister ('F') advised him that he had a good case. P alleged that the defendants failed: (a) to advise him correctly in a number of respects; and (b) to appeal the order of Roger Kaye QC in November 1992 refusing to remove the executor ('W') of the will.HELD: (1) It could not be accepted that P would have established that there was any jeopardy to the estate that would have justified removing W on an interlocutory basis. (2) P expected instant action from IBB and when this was not forthcoming, instead of agreeing to a meeting with IBB, he simply terminated the employment and made his usual allegations of dishonesty. This was enough to dispose of the claim against IBB. (3) The overall impression given by the conference note of the meeting between P, B and F was that everything had been gone through carefully and F's conclusion had been identical to that of the defendant barrister in an earlier action by P, which had been dismissed by Lloyd J. The allegation against defendant solicitors in an earlier action (Angelo Perotti v Collyer Bristow (A Firm) (2003) EWHC 25 (Ch) had met a similar fate before Lindsay J. (4) All of the issues in the instant case had been dealt with before. Independently of that and on the material, the overwhelming conclusion was that P had no prospect of succeeding against these defendants either. (5) The proceedings ought to be struck out as an abuse of process in accordance with Bairstow (supra). It was manifestly unfair to the defendants to be subjected to these allegations so many years after the event and bearing in mind the way P conducted his litigation. To allow P to continue to raise these matters would plainly bring the administration of justice into disrepute.Applications granted.

[2003] EWHC 2497 (Ch)