A law firm has been barred by the High Court from making any further court applications for at least 18 months after failing to heed warnings to stop.
His Honour Judge Pelling KC, sitting as a judge of the High Court, imposed the civil restraint order against Kazakhstan-based Michael Wilson & Partners Limited.
In Michael Wilson & Partners v Emmott & Ors (Judgment on CRO Application), the judge said English solicitor Wilson had been warned on previous occasions that unless the issuing of applications which were totally without merit ceased, it was probable an order would be made.
He continued: ‘Regrettably, the time has now come when such an order needs to be made. In reaching that conclusion I have taken into account Mr Wilson’s conduct… I do not make these orders lightly. I had hoped that a solicitor as experienced as Mr Wilson would understand the need to correct the conduct which so many judges have complained of literally over years but that has not come to pass.’
The Court of Appeal warned three years ago that judges might need to intervene to curtail the ‘seemingly interminable’ 13-year dispute between Wilson and dual-qualified solicitor John Emmott over a doomed agreement for a quasi-partnership. At that stage there had been litigation in Australia, New Zealand and the Bahamas as well as nine sets of proceedings in the English courts.
In the CRO application hearing, the court heard that Wilson had indicated at the start of proceedings that he was prepared to offer an undertaking not to commence any further claims or applications against any defendants in the latest litigation. Leading counsel for those defendants rejected this proposal on the basis it was made too late and was not properly formulated. The judge delayed the handing down of his ruling to allow an opportunity for agreement to be reached, but this was not achieved.
The judge accepted submissions from the defendants about the need for a civil restraint order, having repeatedly told Wilson that proceedings were not worth pursuing. He cited the Court of Appeal’s previous assessment of the ‘pathological nature’ of the litigation.
‘The [most recent] claim is an entirely unmeritorious proliferation of this never ending litigation, the vexatiousness of which is illustrated by the conduct of that claim against the sixth defendant, as to which see my substantive judgment striking out the claim,’ said the judge. ‘Numerous other judges abroad have drawn attention to the same problem.’
He imposed an 18-month order and warned that any resumption of the same conduct when the order ends would likely result in further such orders.