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Stobart Group Limited v Elliott [2015] EWCA Civ 449

Another case for the CPR 3.9 library concerning what leeway (if any) be should granted to a litigant in person seeking relief from sanction.

D acted as a litigant in person in a long running dispute with C, his former employer. C made an application for an interim injunction restraining D from defaming them. The injunction was granted with C providing a cross-undertaking in damages.  C then discontinued proceedings. The court directed an enquiry as to whether any loss was caused to D.

D claimed the interim injunction had caused and/or exacerbated his psychiatric disorder. Having failed to file medical evidence in support of this claim an order dated 11 July 2013 provided that (i) D must file and serve medical evidence by 16 September 2013 (ii) in default of which C would have permission to strike out D’s claim.  D again failed to comply. C applied for strike out and D applied for an extension of time. Hearing these applications on 10 January 2014 HHJ Platts treated D’s application for an extension of time as an application for relief from sanction. In considering that the there was no good reason for the default the Judge struck D’s case out.

D appealed. He argued inter alia that the Judge had failed to take into account all the circumstances as required by Denton v White [2014] 1 WLR 3926. D argued it was particularly relevant that (i) he was a litigant in person suffering from a mental disability and (ii) he was in financial difficulty and unable to pay for an expert’s report at the relevant time.

The appeal was dismissed. Upholding the decision in Hysaj v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 1633 the CA held that an inability to pay for legal representation is not in of itself good reason for delay. Nor was being a litigant in person with no previous experience of legal proceedings a good reason for failure to comply with the CPR.

The case provides further evidence of the court’s growing impatience with litigants in person and underlines the strict approach taken with regard to enforcing court orders.

Vaughan Jacob / 1st Jul 2015


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