Keeping it in proportion

His Honour Judge Paul Matthews has handed down a further judgment in the matter of Reynard v. Fox (see the LPC Law news page article of 16 March 2018 here). Reynard, a litigant in person, had previously sought to make a claim against his trustee in Bankruptcy, but that claim was struck out in March 2018 because he had not followed the correct procedure under s.304 Insolvency Act 1986.  Unknown to HHJ Paul Matthews at that time was that Reynard had also made an application for permission to bring the claim under the same section. Accordingly, after receiving written submissions from the parties, the Judge handed down a further judgment in respect the application for permission to bring the Insolvency Act claim.


Ultimately, the application was refused, as there was determined to be no “meritorious cause of action”, although the Judge’s comments at the end of his judgment are likely to be of particular interest to both practitioners and litigants in person:


“I could have spent longer on dealing with the many detailed points arising in this matter. But I cannot justify spending, on a matter which has already taken up three sets of proceedings, so much time which could be more usefully be spent on the disputes of other litigants. It is not fair to them. It is not fair to society, which has to pay for the whole system. It not fair to the respondent, who has to live with these allegations hanging over him. And, although he may not appreciate it at this stage, it is also not fair to the applicant to keep alive false hopes which cannot ripen into success for him.”


The Judge’s words are clearly a reference to the Overriding Objective, which requires the Court to deal with cases in a manner which is proportionate (which includes allotting each case an appropriate share of the court’s resources, while taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases) and serve as a reminder that, even thought litigants in person tend to require greater assistance from the Court and their opponents, the Court cannot indulge them at the expense of other Court users.


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