A vexatious and persistent litigant in person has been effectively banned from appearing in court or acting in litigation of any sort. The order was made by the High Court in HM Attorney General for England & Wales v Sheikh, and applies to proceedings in all courts and tribunals, under any alias or acting as a McKenzie friend.
Lord Justice Coulson said former solicitor Anal Sheikh, who was struck off the roll for dishonesty in 2009, had 'habitually and persistently’ instituted proceedings and made applications to the court. Judges have regularly complained about the groundless basis for her claims and the court heard six examples where proceedings were certified ‘totally without merit’.
The judge cited ‘numerous’ findings of vexatious conduct or abuse of process from Sheikh over 12 years, leading to her being made subject to a civil restraint order in 2009, which has been regularly extended.
He accepted an ‘all proceedings order’ was an extreme remedy but said her self-confessed intention to intervene in every Supreme Court case could not be permitted to continue.
Coulson LJ said: ‘Such has been Ms Sheikh’s conduct over the last decade that nothing other than an indefinite order is justified. Furthermore, there is no basis on which the court could make an order limited in time, because there is currently no evidence before the court that Ms Sheikh’s underlying compulsion might at some date in the future be brought under control.’
Mr Justice Jay had given notice last summer he would ask the attorney general to apply for a section 42 order, which would indefinitely prevent Sheikh from bringing any proceedings forward. The attorney general made the application, which was opposed by Sheikh at a hearing in March.
Coulson LJ explained that Sheikh had ‘never got over’ losing a property dispute in the Chancery Division in 2007, and has spent the subsequent years seeking to reopen this case what he termed ‘an increasingly extravagant fashion’.
She has pursued a variety of actions against her former lawyers, none of which have been successful, claimed the Law Society had committed banking fraud, alleged the judiciary was part of a conspiracy against her, and contended that the SRA’s intervention into her practice was a hate crime.
Her pursuit of these causes has consistently been found to have been vexatious and without merit, but even with a civil restraint order against her she brought further conspiracy claims in the name of her elderly mother.