A serial litigant in person has lost his latest claim in the High Court with a judge concluding he had ‘played the system’. In Nicholson v Hardy deputy ICC Judge Barnett ruled that there were no grounds for Mark Hardy’s claim for compensation against a liquidator handling the affairs of a company where he was a creditor. The judgment stated that Hardy owed a six-figure sum in adverse costs orders for other cases but had paid nothing towards them.
Hardy had sought to claim money following allegations of misfeasance and breach of fiduciary duty against Nicholas Nicholson, who had advised there were no claims worth pursuing against another creditor of JEB Recoveries LLP, which had entered liquidation in November 2017. The court heard that the collapsed company had no funds at the appointment of the liquidators and its only assets were in potential claims which Hardy wanted to be pursued. The liquidators investigated the viability of the potential claims, engaging City firm Gateley plc on a conditional fee basis, but found nothing worth pursuing – prompting Hardy to make his own claim against Nicholson.
The judge said that for last month’s hearing into Nicholson’s strike-out application, he had received one bundle of 180 pages and a further bundle from a previous hearing that amounted to more than 800 pages.
Hardy submitted that the liquidator had a duty to be open and information, and criticised the liquidator’s unwillingness to explain his decision not to pursue any potential claims.
The judge said Hardy’s submission was ‘misconceived’ and concluded that Nicholson owed no duty to share his advice or pursue claims where there were no funds available.
According to Nicholson’s lawyers, Hardy, who has pursued a number of other claims for more than a decade, was a ‘serial and experienced litigator’ who would deploy ‘burnt earth tactics to secure victory’. It was submitted he was abusing the court system and taking up court time on personal vendettas.
The court heard that in the course of the last year, Hardy has had costs orders made against him totalling around £200,000, which remain unpaid. The litigant has placed his property, it was submitted, into the names of his children and effectively made himself ‘bomb-proof’ from any adverse costs orders. Hardy said none of the parties owed costs were seeking to enforce their orders as the claims were subject to appeal. He also stated that he was often vindicated in his actions, although he could not cite evidence of this.
The judge concluded that Hardy was willing to take ‘whatever steps might be necessary’ to damage the liquidator’s reputation but his case was totally without merit and an abuse of process.
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