On the face of it, Sir Geoffrey Vos’ decision in Middlesbrough Football & Athletic Company (1986) Ltd v. Earth Energy Investments LLP & Others [2019] EWHC 226 (Ch)not to set aside an extended civil restraint order is an unremarkable one. The Applicant, a litigant in person, who had previously had control of the Defendant companies, was under several misconceptions as to his ability to take steps on behalf of companies he no longer controlled and the Court’s ability to reconsider orders which ought to have been challenged by way of an appeal.

However, the case is worthy of note because it is a further example of the manner in which the Courts are being careful not to provide litigants in person with any special dispensations as to the applicable procedural rules, following on from the Supreme Court’s decision in Barton v. Wright Hassall LLP[2018] UKSC 12.

Sir Geoffrey Vos made the following comments at the end of his judgment, noting that it was right that the Applicant’s conduct had been stopped by the extended civil restraint order:

“I regret to say in conclusion that this case provides a classic example of a litigant in person getting the problems he faces out of proportion. Mr Millinder always thought, perhaps still does, that he was right and everyone else was wrong. Instead of bringing straightforward court proceedings to try to establish his companies' claims or appealing orders he wanted to challenge, he made a series of ever more unmeritorious applications, wasting the time of the court, of judges, of civil servants, of lawyers and others.”

The message coming from the Courts is clear: whilst the Courts are not unsympathetic to the difficulties litigants in person face, they must use the proper procedures and conduct themselves in an appropriate (reasonable) manner.