The High Court has dismissed an attempt to stop a former litigant in person getting a second chance at making their claim after the first was struck out due to a technicality.
Property owner Philip Davies is pursuing the second action against a company of boiler installers after his first attempt was struck out due to him failing to meet the court’s unless order.
The defendants in Davies v Carillion Energy Services Ltd & Anor applied to have the second action similarly killed off, arguing Davies was guilty of an abuse of process given his failure to advance the original claim.
The case is another in a growing list of litigation where the courts are attempting to grapple with issues arising from people representing themselves. Most indications are that judges are minded to give litigants in person a little more leeway in compliance with rules and procedure, while trying not to interfere with court processes.
Ruling in the High Court, Mr Justice Morris agreed with a district judge’s decision to dismiss the defendants’ application and allow the claim, for a sum estimated at almost £20,000, to proceed.
Morris said Davies, who was a litigant in person when the first claim failed, had not shown a ‘wholesale disregard’ of the civil procedure rules and it had been struck out for a technical problem rather than an inordinate or serious delay.
‘I am satisfied that the claimant’s conduct in the first action was neither an abuse of process nor inexcusable and thus that the second action should not be struck out as an abuse of process,’ added the judge.
Davies had first issued a claim form in July 2010 alleging that his new boiler ceased to function, but the defendants contended he had failed to set out any allegations in support of his claim and failed to show any calculations as to how he arrived at the figure he was claiming for.
After further correspondence between the parties, Davies was ordered to provide fully pleaded particulars of claim by 4 July 2011 ‘specifying on what legal basis the claim is made’.
He filed a 39-page manuscript document in purported compliance, but a district judge ruled this did not meet the order as specified and the claim was struck out. The second action was issued in December 2015 with Davies now represented by solicitors and counsel.
Describing this as abuse of process, the defendants said the second action should be struck out unless the claimant could show special reason why it should be allowed to proceed.
But Davies’ lawyers said there was no provision in the civil procedure rules which automatically prohibits the commencement of a second action after a first action has been struck out.