A litigation business has been lambasted by a High Court judge after attempting to sway his decision shortly before it was due to be handed down.
Mr Justice Snowden said legal representatives of the applicant in Shorts Gardens LLB v London Borough of Camden Council had submitted three statements less than two hours before the judgment was due to be circulated. The statements sought to persuade the judge not to deliver his ruling, to reopen and reargue many of the points raised, and to stay his order pending an application to the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court.
The judge said none of the material sent had any merit whatsoever and did not cause him to change his mind ‘in the slightest’. It had been sent by London legal practice Harrison Carter, which the judge said was not a firm of solicitors but claimed to be a company entitled to provide legal services under an exemption of the Legal Services Act.
In his postscript, the judge added: ‘I also strongly deprecate the conduct of Harrison Carter in sending these materials. Regrettably, this conduct is of a piece with its general modus operandi of bombarding the court with argumentative correspondence purporting to make applications without any legal or procedural merit.’
The case itself concerned two applications to restrain presentation of two separate winding-up petitions against two companies by Camden and Preston councils. The petitions relate to unpaid liability orders from national non-domestic rates and certain unpaid costs orders arising out of earlier litigation. Both companies were represented by Harrison Carter, which shares an office address with one.
Each application sought injunctive relief on the basis that the debts in question were genuinely disputed on substantial grounds or were subject to cross-claims. The applicants also contended it was inappropriate for a winding up petition to be proceeded with ‘until 14 days after Covid-19 has been controlled through vaccination and/or the government make an announcement that it is safe for the United Kingdom to come out of the lockdown’.
The judge refused both applications and dismissed them as an abuse of process and totally without merit.