R Anas v County Court at Central London

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
JudgeJudge Andrew Grubb
Judgment Date25 August 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] EWHC 2927 (Admin)
Docket NumberCO/1209/2016
Date25 August 2016

[2016] EWHC 2927 (Admin)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand

London WC2A 2LL

Before:

Judge Andrew Grubb

(Sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court)

CO/1209/2016

Between:
The Queen on the Application of Anas
Claimant
and
County Court at Central London
Defendant

Mr A Swirsky (instructed by Direct Public Access) appeared on behalf of the Claimant

The Defendant did not appear and was not represented

1

THE DEPUTY JUDGE: This is a renewed application for permission to bring judicial review proceedings following a refusal on the papers by Haddon-Cave J on 29 June 2016. The application challenges a decision of His Honour Judge Mitchell QC, the Designated Civil Judge at the Central London County Court, made on 17 March 2015 refusing the claimant's application for permission to appeal in a county court action, in particular an order of District Judge Avent made on 17 December 2013.

The Background

2

The background to the judicial review application is undoubtedly complicated. Mr Swirsky, who has represented the claimant today, has very helpfully taken me through the documents contained in the bundle. Putting the chronology as simply as I can, and as necessary to decide this application for permission, it is as follows.

3

The claimant, Mr Anas, together with a number of other individuals (but they are not relevant for the purposes of these proceedings), was in dispute with the King Fahad Academy, a school at which three of Mr Anas' children had been studying and from which they had been excluded. As a result, Mr Anas, along with others, brought a claim in the Central London County Court against the King Fahad Academy Limited.

4

There was a hearing before District Judge Avent on 26 April 2013. On 19 June 2013, District Judge Avent handed down his judgment in that claim. It is set out at pages 83 to 122 of the bundle. It is a detailed judgment but for these purposes what is important is that, in the context of summary judgment being sought, he declined to grant summary judgment against Mr Anas in respect of a contractual claim he had against the school in relation to his son Amir and his admission to that school. At paragraphs 97 to 112 of his judgment he gave his reasons for declining summary judgment. However, at paragraph 112 he indicated that the outcome of Mr Anas' contractual claim depended upon Mr Anas actually proving that he had sustained loss, otherwise, as District Judge Avent said in paragraph 111, "the claim should not proceed further". In paragraph 112 he concluded that "he will need to be ready to clarify his position in this regard when I hand this judgment down".

5

The judgment was in fact handed down on 19 June 2013 at a hearing before Judge Avent at the Central London County Court. Mr Anas did not attend that hearing. He put forward reasons why he could not attend, in particular that he had a medical appointment at 11.50 am (I interpolate that the case was listed for 9.45 am), that appointment being at UCL and in addition he was required to take some medication prior to that. Having considered that application for an adjournment, District Judge Avent declined to do so on the basis, as he put it in his order, there was no formal application supported by evidence for an adjournment and no notification given to the defendant. As a result of that, pursuant to what he had indicated would be the consequence in paragraph 112 of his draft judgment, he struck out the remaining part of Mr Anas' contractual claim against the. As I understand it, at that time he also made a civil restraint order against Mr Anas.

6

Thereafter, Mr Anas asked for District Judge Avent's decision to be reconsidered and by a letter dated 9 October 2013 (which is at page 128 of the bundle) Mr Anas was notified that the hearing would take place for one hour at the Central London County Court on 17 December 2013. As I understand it, that application was to be listed before District Judge Avent. Mr Anas then asked for the date to be brought forward and at page 130 is a letter from Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service at the Central London County Court dated 14 October 2013 indicating that the court could not disregard His Honour Judge Mitchell QC's decision that the case should be listed on 17 December 2013 before District Judge Avent.

7

Again a further request was made by Mr Anas to move the date and on 1 November 2013 (the document is at page 132 of the bundle) His Honour Judge Mitchell QC made an order in which he stated that the reconsideration would remain listed as before for one hour on 17 December 2013 before District Judge Avent. In that order he stated that the application to vary directions would be dismissed because no directions were given and no order made, and the application was totally without merit. Shortly after that, on 19 November 2013, His Honour Judge Mitchell QC made an extended civil restraint order in respect of Mr Anas. That document is at pages 133 to 135 of the bundle. At the hearing there was a little confusion as to when the order was made but it seems clear that that was the date it was made.

8

The hearing then took place on 17 December before District Judge Avent and he was not prepared to look behind his decision of 19 June 2013. The decision of District Judge Avent is set out in the order of that date at page 138 of the bundle. I was told by Mr Swirsky that his instructions were that at that hearing District Judge Avent granted the claimant leave within the extended civil restraint order to seek permission to appeal or have reconsidered his decision not to reopen the claim which he had struck out on 19 June. I simply note that it is not referred to in the order at page 138.

9

On 3 January 2014, Mr Anas then submitted an application for permission to appeal against District Judge Avent's decision of 17 November 2013. That application does not appear to have been dealt with by the court until it came before His Honour Judge Mitchell QC on 16 October 2014. His order is at page 178 to 179 of the bundle. Having noted that the claimant was subject to an extended civil restraint order and was not entitled to pursue his appeal as of right but he must have made a formal application to the court and pay a fee, which he had not done, he refused the application for permission to appeal.

10

Mr Anas then made an application to the High Court, dealt with by Master Yoxall, asking for leave for permission to appeal the decision. I should add that by this time Eder J on 4 February 2014 had made a further extended civil restraint order against the claimant. On 29 January 2015, Master Yoxall granted the claimant leave to bring the application for permission to appeal, including permission to appeal out of time, the order of District Judge Avent dated 19 June 2013 limited to his claim in contract in respect of his son Amir. I note that in effect this was permission for leave to challenge the decision of 17 December not to reopen made by District Judge Avent but the effect was that the claimant had leave within the terms of the extended civil restraint order to bring an application to appeal in the contractual claim that was being determined in the County Court.

11

That application came before His Honour Judge Mitchell QC on 17 March 2015 and it is his decision of that date which is the subject of these proceedings. His order is set out at page 197 and it is necessary for me to set it out in full. After the usual preamble it is stated that it is "ordered that" and then in two numbered paragraphs the order is as follows:

"1. The claimant claims to have been given permission to make an application for permission to appeal out of time and permission to appeal but the court has not seen a copy of the order and given the matters contained in the preamble of the extended civil restraint order made by Eder J dated 5 February 2014 the court is entitled to be sceptical. For the avoidance of doubt the court will treat the permission as having been given and for the avoidance of doubt (the court believing these applications have already been dismissed) dismisses the application for permission to appeal out of time and the application for permission to appeal. Each of the applications is totally without merit.

2. The court also notes the desire of the claimant to have the matter listed before another circuit judge and that will not happen. The Designated Civil Judge has power to make a civil restraint order and has done so. The purpose of such an order is to place restraints on the claimant's ability to litigate as a result of his abuse of the court's process. The claimant, as a result of his attempts to continue this litigation, which has been brought to an end by a series of orders, is simply seeking to continue the process in breach of the extended civil restraint order. The claimant should take notice that any further breach of the order of 19 November 2013 is a contempt of court and may result in his committal to prison."

12

I observe at this point, because it is relied upon as part of the substantive grounds by Mr Swirsky, that this order does not on its face point out that the claimant has, perhaps subject to leave because of the extended civil restraint order, the right to request an oral hearing within 7 days as set out in CPR 52.3(4).

13

I now turn to a few matters relating to these proceedings. Dissatisfied with His Honour Judge Mitchell QC's decision, the claimant has previously sought leave within the extended civil restraint order to bring proceedings like the present. First, he applied on 28 April 2013 but leave was refused by...

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