Christopher Wicks v Parkin & Others

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division
JudgeThe Hon. Mr Justice Popplewell
Judgment Date22 Nov 2013
Neutral Citation[2013] EWHC 3671 (QB)

[2013] EWHC 3671 (QB)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEENS BENCH DIVISION

On transfer from

THE NOTTINGHAM COUNTY COURT

Claim No 3NG01313

Combined Court Centre

The Law Courts

60 Canal Street

Nottingham NG1 7EL

Before:

The Hon. Mr Justice Popplewell

Between:
Christopher Wicks
Claimant
and
Parkin & Others
Defendant

Christopher Wicks (Litigant in Person)

The Defendants did not appear were not represented

Hearing date: 20 November 2013

Approved Judgment

I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.

The Hon. Mr Justice Popplewell The Hon. Mr Justice Popplewell
1

These are the reasons for making an extended civil restraint order against Mr Wicks.

2

The court's power to make civil restraint orders ("CROs") arises pursuant to CPR Rule 3.11. Practice Direction 3C identifies the three forms of CRO which may be made. By paragraph 3.1 an Extended CRO may be made where a party has persistently issued claims or made applications which are totally without merit.

3

What is meant by persistence in this context was explained by the Court of Appeal in Bhamjee v Forsdick [2004] 1 WLR88 at paragraph 42 as follows:

"We do not include the word "habitual" among the necessary criteria for an extended cibvil restraint order, but there has to be an element of persistence in the irrational refusal to take "no" for an answer before an order of this type can be made".

See also R (Kumar) v Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs [2007] 1 WLR 536 at paragraphs 68–69

4

On 18 November 2011 Mr Wicks issued claim number 1QZ35198 in the Nottingham County Court against Miss Parkin for monies lent, claiming £1,228. On 21 November 2011, he issued a further claim number 1QZ36100 against Miss Parkin and J Wren for work done, claiming £560. Defences were served on 19 and 21 December 2011 in the two actions. During the course of those proceedings Mr Wicks was the subject of bail conditions, and subsequently a restraining order, arising out of his prosecution for harassment of the defendant Miss Parkin. This meant that he was prohibited from contacting Miss Parkin save through the County Court.

5

At a preliminary hearing on 21 March 2012 District Judge Nicolle consolidated the two actions and made case management orders including orders that

(1) Mr Wicks file with the court in duplicate further and better particulars of claim;

(2) Within 14 days of receipt of the further and better particulars of claim, the defendant file with the court in duplicate a defence to the further and better particulars of claim (paragraph 5 of the order);

(3) The court was to serve the further and better particulars on the defendant on behalf of the claimant (paragraph 4 of the order).

6

On 13 April 2012 Mr Wicks filed his further and better particulars of claim. He says that he was subsequently told by a member of staff in the court office that it was sent to the defendant on 23 April 2012. However a document on the court file is marked with a manuscript annotation that it was sent to the defendant on 10 May 2012.

7

The defendant filed her particularised defence which is dated 10 May 2012. There is a dispute about when it was filed.

8

On 14 May 2012 Mr Wicks filed an application for judgment in default being an application that judgment be entered because the defendant was in breach of the order of District Judge Nicolle by not filing her particularised defence by 9 May 2012. Court staff referred the application for judgment to District Judge Nicolle. By the time she came to consider the application the particularised defence had been filed. She declined to enter judgment.

9

In her reasons she said:

"The claimant's letter of 29 April 2012, amounting to further and better particulars of claim, was sent by the court to the defendant on 10 May 2012. The defendant filed her defence on 24 May 2012, 12 days after deemed service of the claimants further and better particulars and this was handed to the claimant, by the court, on 31 May 2012. It was not appropriate to strike out the defence."

10

The letter advising Mr Wicks of the decision went on to explain: "If the claimant wishes to appeal, he must do so, following the correct procedure and paying the appropriate fee". Mr Wicks did not appeal that decision.

11

The case was consolidated with a further claim (1QZ35198), and came to trial on 6 June 2012. It was heard by District Judge Nicolle and determined on its merits. She handed down a reserved judgment on 6 July 2012 in which she gave judgment for the Mr Wicks on his claim in the sum of £398.11, against which she allowed a costs set off of £97.50; and judgment for the defendant on her counterclaim.

12

Meanwhile on 16 May 2012 Mr Wicks had issued another claim against Miss Parkin for monies lent in action 2QT54948 claiming £322.01. A defence was entered on 14 June 2012 and on 16 July 2012 District Judge Nicolle struck out that claim as an abuse of process.

13

On 25 June 2012 Mr Wicks commenced another action against Miss Parkin (in the name of Mrs Armstrong) being claim 2QT70212 claiming £150. On 7 August 2012 that claim was struck out by District Judge Nicolle on the grounds that it contained no legally recognisable claim.

14

On 25 September 2013 Mr Wicks commenced claim 3NG01313 against Miss Parkin and six other individuals. The individuals named as 2 nd to 6 th defendants were members of the court staff at Nottingham County Court. District Judge Nicolle was named as the 7 th defendant. The claim alleged a failure to comply with District Judge Nicolle's order of 21 March 2012 and sought to bring a claim against her and the court staff for contempt of court, as well a a claim for sexual discrimination. It was referred to the Designated Civil Judge, HHJ Godsmark QC for directions as to how it should be dealt with. On 26 September 2013 HHJ Godsmark QC made an order that:

(1) the claim form shall not be served;

(2) the claim is struck out pursuant to CPR 3.4 as disclosing no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim and/or as an abuse of the court's process;

(3) The claim is totally without merit.

15

His reasons were set out in writing. They were as follows:

"The background facts are not clearly set out in the Particulars of Claim but consideration of the court file 1QZ36100 shows in essence that:-

[there was then a recitation in sub paragraphs (a) to (h) of the history of the litigation, to one aspect of which I shall return]

Each claim is identically framed and alleges:-

1. Contempt of Court. This appears to be based on non-compliance with District Judge Nicolle's order of 21 March (i.e. para. 4 — Court to serve Defendant on behalf of the claimant; and para. 5 Defendant to file a defence to Claimant's further and better particulars of Claim within 14 days of receipt).

2. Sexual discrimination under CPR Rule 1 in the form of bias to Miss Parkin

These claims are misconceived

Paragraph 5 of the 21 March 2012 order — service of defence

1. This order was directed at Miss Parkin only. None of the other defendants were subject to it. Allegations that anyone other than Miss Parkin could have been in breach are baseless.

2. Even if Miss Parkin was late serving her further defence (which is not clear) on considering the Claimant's application to enter judgment District Judge Nicolle was entitled to exercise her case management powers, grant relief from sanctions under CPR 3.9 if necessary and refuse to enter judgment. If the Claimant disagrees with that decision he could have appealed. He did not do so.

3. The order of District Judge Nicolle was a case management direction made by her. She had power to alter or vary the order or grant relief from sanctions. She did so. That has not been appealed. She cannot be said to be in contempt of her own case management direction.

4. The other defendants are all members of the court staff. They were not party to the Claimant's litigation against Miss Parkin. District Judge Nicolle's case management directions were not directed at any of them personally.

5. Resort to CPR81 is misconceived. If reliance is placed on CPR 81.4 then the allegations are incapable of amounting to contempt — and there was no CPR 81.9 penal notice attached to the order of 21 March 2012. If reliance is placed upon CPR 81.12 then no permission has been sought or granted.

Paragraph 4 of 21 March 2012 — Court to serve Claimant's Particulars

6. This provided a mechanism for service only. The order was not an order of the court directed to any individual.

7. There was no breach of paragraph 3. The Claimant's further particulars were sent to the Defendant. She provided her further Defence in response.

8. If it is alleged that the court did not send the Claimant's particulars to the Defendant timeously there was no time for service by the court included by the order. There was no breach.

9. Resort to CPR 81 is misconceived. If reliance is placed on CPR 81.4 then the allegations are incapable of amounting to contempt — and there was no CPR 81.9 penal notice attached to the order of 21 March 2012. If reliance is placed on CPR 81.12 then no permission has been sought or granted.

Sexual Discrimination

10. The allegation of sexual discrimination is unparticularised and appears to amount to the assertion that the defendants are all female and must thus be discriminating against the male Clamant. That bald assertion will not support a claim for sexual discrimination under CPR Rule 1 or at all."

16

HHJ Judge Godsmark QC's order contained the usual provision where an order has been made without a hearing that Mr Wicks might apply to have it set aside. He made such an application, which was heard by HHJ Judge Godsmark QC at a hearing attended by Mr Wicks on 13 November 2013. Having heard Mr Wicks in...

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