The High Court has rejected a disgruntled litigant’s attempt to have his opponent’s solicitors committed for contempt.
Applicant Juraid Anwer had attempted to have the directors of a lending business committed to prison in Anwer v Central Bridging Loans Ltd. His application named two partners from national firm Shakespeare Martineau, Kamran Rehman and Michael Mulligan.
The court heard that the only basis for the application involving the solicitors was a witness statement from Rehman filed in December. This referred to an attendance note prepared by Shakespeare Martineau of an injunction hearing from last March. Anwar had complained the attendance note was misleading as it did not record the judge’s view then that his case was not a ‘frivolous’ one. He subsequently brought committal proceedings against the loans company.
Rehman produced the witness statement in response to those proceedings, and said that ‘having now seen’ a copy of the judgment, it was appreciated that the attendance notice was not a ‘verbatim note’ of what was said by the judge.
Anwer said that statement was misleading in that Rehman was trying to suggest he only saw a transcript in December which was circulated in March. The applicant further argued that Rehman was admitting the attendance note was inaccurate.
Mr Justice Zacaroli, hearing the case by recorded telephone conference last week, did not accept that Rehman admitted to being inaccurate, merely that the attendance note was not verbatim. The fact it was not verbatim did not mean it was not accurate, he ruled.
On the question of timing, the judge concluded that even if the words could mean ‘having seen the transcript for the first time in December 2019’, it was ‘absurd’ to suggest that Rehman used this form of words in an attempt to mislead the court. Since he was aware that Anwer knew the transcript was sent in March 2019, the judge said Rehman would know that any attempt to mislead the court would have been immediately obvious to Anwer and so bound to fail.
Overall, the judge said Anwer fell ‘very far short’ of establishing a strong prima facie case against the alleged contemnors. Procedural defects included failing to apply for the permission of the court to bring proceedings, failing to commence the proceedings by a separate claim form and failing to identify precisely the grounds alleged.