The High Court has put an end to a litigant in person’s fraud claim against international giant Simmons & Simmons, describing his alleged theory as ‘quite unrealistic’.
In Hinkel v Simmons & Simmons, Mr Justice Adam Johnson refused permission to appeal an order entering summary judgment for the law firm, and in doing so upheld the decision to dismiss David Hinkel’s fraud claim.
The claimant had brought legal action against Simmons & Simmons over an aborted purchase of a property owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hinkel said that an individual involved in the transactions, who was in contact with a member of Simmons & Simmons, was not a representative of the seller but instead an imposter. Hinkel sought incurred costs and lost profits caused by the failed transaction from the firm on the basis it was a party to a fraud.
The court heard the claimant had also complained about the firm directly to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The complaints were rejected after inquiries were made by the SRA.
Following a hearing at Central London County Court, His Honour Judge Dight had concluded there was no evidence which was properly consistent with an assertion of dishonesty. The pleading of fraud was deemed to be not properly put, and there was no assertion that the firm knew its representation was untrue or that the firm was reckless to the truth.
In the High Court, Johnson J said alternative interpretations were ‘inherently much more likely or more plausible’ than the theory that Simmons & Simmons was involved in a fraud. The judge added: ‘The way matters have developed is unfortunate, but it is not appropriate I think for [Hinkel] to seek to vent his frustration by making allegations of dishonesty against Simmons & Simmons.’
He stated that Hinley’s permission application was not totally without merit, and the claimant had raised a ‘legitimate question’ about an issue relating to a draft engagement letter from the firm – even if that question did not ultimately help him. He made no order as to the costs of the appeal.
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