Right to a fair hearing – Access to a court – Claimant being subject of civil restraining order

Senior-Milne v Secretary of State for Justice: Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court (London) (Mr Justice Coulson): 30 October 2012

The claimant was the subject of a civil restraining order (CRO). A result of the CRO was that if he wished to seek permission to appeal the CRO, he was required to pay a fee of £80 (the fee requirement). If permission was subsequently granted, the fee would be refunded. The claimant commenced proceedings claiming that the fee requirement was incompatible with his rights under article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The claim would be dismissed.

It was established law that the right of access to a court did not, in principle, prevent the state from taking action to control the activities of vexatious litigants provided that: (i) the limitations applied did not restrict the access left to the individual in such a way or to such an extent that the very essence of the right was impaired; and (ii) the restriction had to pursue a legitimate aim and have a reasonable relationship of proportionality to the aim sought to be achieved (see [17] of the judgment).

In the instant case, the requirement to pay a fee was not incompatible with article 6 of the Convention. There was no doubt that the requirement to pay the fee was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (see [22], [23] of the judgment). Bhamjee v Forsdick (No 2) [2003] All ER (D) 429 (Jul) applied; Tolstoy Miloslavsky v United Kingdom (Application 18139/91) [1995] ECHR 18139/91 considered; Kreuz v Poland (Application 28249/95) [2001] ECHR 28249/95 considered; Podbielski v Poland (Application 39199/98) [2005] ECHR 39199/98 considered.

The claimant did not appear and was not represented; Sarah-Jane Davies (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the secretary of state.