A High Court judge has told a woman challenging her legal debts that there is no merit in any of her grounds of appeal. Mr Justice Murray told Dr Diana Okonkwo she had exhausted her appeal rights in relation to a default judgment made against her in favour of east London practice Harris Waters.
The firm had issued a claim in October 2018 for fees which it said were due for professional services.
In the absence of a filed defence to the claim, the firm obtained a judgment by default and then applied for a writ of control to enforce that judgment.
There followed a services of hearings at which Okonkwo applied to stay the writ of control and set aside the default judgment, first before Deputy District Judge Billing and then – the application having been rejected – before His Honour Judge Townsend. Having reviewed the papers, Townsend refused permission to appeal, but left it open to Okonkwo to renew her application.
Last November, His Honour Judge Ambrose refused permission to appeal Billings’ order and refused to stay the writ of control. Undeterred, she applied for permission to appeal against two paragraphs of Ambrose’s order.
Mr Justice Murray explained in Quality Solicitors Harris Waters v Okonkwo that almost all of her grounds of appeal, arguments in her skeleton argument and her more recent statement of position were more concerned with the substance of the Billing decision. He said she had no right of appeal against HHJ Ambrose’s refusal of permission to appeal, and therefore the default judgment stood.
On the writ of control, Okonkwo continued to argue serious irregularity in the course of proceedings and based on their being no continuity of circuit judges. She also argued the writ of control should be stayed because the default judgment was obtained by deception.
Murray rejected any claim of procedural irregularity, and in any case Okonkwo had not explained how this disadvantaged her. The argument that the writ of control should be stayed because the default judgment was obtained by deception was ‘hopeless’ and had no merit.
Murray opted not to make a civil restraint order against Okonkwo as no other meritless applications had been made by her.