Wenlock v Moloney

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
Judgment Date31 May 1965
Judgment citation (vLex)[1965] EWCA Civ J0531-2

[1965] EWCA Civ J0531-2

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

(From: Mr. Justice Melford Stevenson-in Chambers)


Lord Justice Sellers

Lord Justice Dancererts and

Lord Justice Diplock

Albert Wenlock
R. H. Moloney (male)
E. H. Duce (male)
H. J. H. Leopard (male)

The Appellant (Mr. A. Wenlock, Plaintiff) appeared in person.

Mr. Francis Barnes (instructed by Messrs. G. A. Fry & Co., Agents for Messrs. Ratcliffe, Duce & Gammer, Reading) appeared on behalf of the Respondents the First and Second Defendants.

Mr. Gordon Slynn (instructed by Messrs. Bird & Bird, Agents for Messrs. Harrisons, Worcester) appeared on behalf of the Respondent the Third Defendant'.


We have already given leave to appeal oat of time and have now heard the appeal from Mr. Justice Melford Stevenson affirming Master Jacob. In my judgment the appeal of the plaintiff (who has appeared in person in this court) should be allowed. What has taken place here is I think without precedent and far from encouraging It, as learned counsel have submitted, I would disapprove it. It is not the practice in the civil administration of our courts to have a preliminary hearing, as it is in crime.


The facts here are quite unusual. The writ was issued by the plaintiff (who was then conducting his own litigation) on the 29th April, 1964. In that writ he makes a claim in respect of his losses which he sets out, and then says that these losses were caused by conspiracy by the above named defendants to deprive the plaintiff of his 50 per cent, share in the property and business of the Holy Well Spring, Malvern, Worcestershire. On the 13th May, 1964, he delivered a long, inartistic and wandering Statement of Claim consisting of some 31 paragraphs. As I say, he did that himself. That was objected to by letter as being something which was not sufficiently intelligible or sufficiently revealing of what was being claimed to permit it to be pleaded to. In response to those communications from the defendants (of whom there were three) the plaintiff remodelled his Statement of Claim and that was redelivered on the 21st May, 1964, when he set out his claim against the three different defendants whom he had sued. Mr. Moloney, with whom he had a close business relationship; Mr. Duce, who was a solicitor? and Mr. Leopard, who was a chartered accountant who had become concerned in some of the activities with which Mr. Moloney and Mr. Wenlock either were or had been associated.


Following that Statement of Claim (which I need not read but which again is done in a home made manner by the plaintiff himself) the defendants pleaded and put in their Defences. Mr.Moloney and Mr. Duce joined in their Defences and delivered a document of the 21st July following. That Defence by paragraph 3 denied the allegations of conspiracy and set up affirmative allegations. It said that "The first defendant was at all material times the managing director of Trades Exhibitions Ltd., the moneys of which he was investing In the first named company and as agent of which he subsequently became a principal shareholder In the second named company. The second defendant was acting at all material times as solicitor to the first defendant". Then particulars are given setting out various allegations of fact extending down the alphabet as far as (j). Under paragraph 4 both defendants deny the matters set out in one paragraph of the Statement of Claim and then continue to say that they "will say as follows": and they set out averments from (a) to (e). Paragraph 6 says, whilst denying the allegations of the Statement of Claim, that these defendants "will say the following". and they set out various matters which they wish to advance, (a), (b) and (c).


The defendant Leopard had put in his Defence earlier, on the 1st July. His is a traverse, coupled with an admission. In addition to those Defences there were also applications for particulars, and a large number of particulars were given by the plaintiff. He put in a Reply on the 20th July to Mr. Leopard's Defence and on the 28th July to the Defence of Mr. Moloney and Mr. Duce.


On the 4th August in the ordinary sequence of the action the plaintiff took out a summons for directions which fixed the hearing for the 2nd November, 1964. On the 28th October, as that date was approaching, the first two defendants took out a summons that the plaintiff should attend on an application on the part of the defendants Moloney and Duce for an order that "(1) the indorsement of the writ of summons herein, (2) the statement of claim dated 13th May, 1964, (3) the statement of claim dated 21st May, 1964, and (4) the reply dated 28th July, 1964, be struck out under the Rules of the Supreme Court, Order 18 Rule 19. upon thegrounds that they and each of them disclose no reasonable cause of action, are vexatious and an abuse of the process of the court, and upon like...

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    ...claim". Rule 26.1 (c) is entirely new. We must give effect to what it says. Therefore cases such as Wenlock v Maloney and others [1965] 2 All E.R. 871 which were decided under the old rules are not of much help. There the issue was whether the case pleaded discloses a reasonable cause......
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    ...the course of his submission in this case on behalf of the Applicant Lord Gifford drew our attention to a decision of this court in Wenlock v. Moloney & Ors. (1965, 1 W.L.R, 1238), Upon giving judgment in that decision the court made some strong comments about the undesirability of mas......
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    ...(15) -Smith v. Eric S. Bush, [1990] 1 A.C. 831; [1989] 2 All E.R. 514, dicta of Lord Griffiths applied. (16) -Wenlock v. Moloney, [1965] 1 W.L.R. 1238; [1965] 2 All E.R. 871, dicta of Danckwerts, L.J. applied. Legislation construed: Grand Court Rules, O.14, r.12: ‘(1) Where in an action to ......
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