Want of Prosecution in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Birkett v James
    • House of Lords
    • 25 Mai 1977

    To justify dismissal of an action for want of prosecution the delay relied upon must relate to time which the plaintiff allows to lapse unnecessarily after the writ has been issued. A late start makes it the more incumbent upon the plaintiff to proceed with all due speed and a pace which might have been excusable if the action had been started sooner may be inexcusable in the light of the time that has already passed before the writ was issued.

  • Grovit and Others v Doctor and Others
    • House of Lords
    • 24 Abr 1997

    The courts exist to enable parties to have their disputes resolved. To commence and to continue litigation which you have no intention to bring to conclusion can amount to an abuse of process. Where this is the situation the party against whom the proceedings is brought is entitled to apply to have the action struck out and if justice so requires (which will frequently be the case) the courts will dismiss the action.

  • Allen v Sir Alfred McAlpine & Sons Ltd
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 11 Jan 1968

    But also, if after the plaintiff has been guilty of unreasonable delay the defendant so conducts himself as to induce the plaintiff to incur further costs in the reasonable belief that the defendant intends to exercise his right to proceed to trial notwithstanding the plaintiff's delay, he cannot obtain dismissal of the action unless the plaintiff has thereafter been guilty of further unreasonable delay.

  • Revici v Prentice Hall Incorporated
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 11 Dez 1968

    Nowadays we regard time very differently from what they did in the 19th century. We have had occasion recently to dismiss many cases for want of prosecution when people have not kept to the rules as to time. So here, although the time is not so very long, it is quite long enough. There was ample time for considering whether there should be an appeal or not. Moreover (and this is important), not a single ground or excuse is put forward to explain the delay and why he did not appeal.

  • Bremer Vulkan Schiffbau und Maschinenfabrik v South India Shipping Corporation Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 22 Jan 1981

    Every civilised system of government requires that the state should make available to all its citizens a means for the just and peaceful settlement of disputes between them as to their respective legal rights. The means provided are courts of justice to which every citizen has a constitutional right of access in the role of plaintiff to obtain the remedy to which he claims to be entitled in consequence of an alleged breach of his legal or equitable rights by some other citizen, the defendant.

  • Barclays Bank Plc v Miller and Another; Frank, third party
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 18 Jan 1990

    It seems to me that the House of Lords was not there considering a case where it was open to doubt and serious argument whether the cause of action would be time barred if a fresh writ were issued. The alternative is that masters, and judges on appeal and even this court, may become embroiled, on an application to dismiss for want of prosecution, in long and elaborate arguments as to whether some future action, if it were brought, would be time barred.

  • Costellow v Somerset County Council
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 09 Nov 1992

    Save in special cases or exceptional circumstances, it can rarely be appropriate, on an overall assessment of what justice requires, to deny the plaintiff an extension (where the denial will stifle his action) because of a procedural default which, even if unjustifiable, has caused the defendant no prejudice for which he cannot be compensated by an award of costs.

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Books & Journal Articles
  • House of Lords
    • Núm. 54-2, May 1990
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The
    ...... because a party failed to appear or an action is dismissed for want of prosecution or a claim is not made within a fixed time ......
  • The Assizes
    • Núm. 21-3, July 1957
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The
    ...... Witnesses for the prosecution stated that the motor-cyclist was on his correct side of the road, ... THE ASSIZES 223 for want of prosecution, and such person shall appear to be insane, it ......
    • Núm. 32-6, November 1969
    • The Modern Law Review
    ...... EXERCISE OF JUDICIAL DISCRETION TO DISMISS AN ACTION FOR WANT OF PROSECUTION AN appeal lies from an official referee to the ......
  • Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
    • Núm. 53-4, November 1989
    • Journal of Criminal Law, The
    ...... The appeal was dismissed for want of prosecution. He presented a petition to the Royal Court in ......
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Law Firm Commentaries
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