Mahajan v Department of Constitutional Affairs, Court of Appeal - Civil Division, June 30, 2004, [2004] EWCA Civ 946

Resolution Date:June 30, 2004
Issuing Organization:Civil Division
Actores:Mahajan v Department of Constitutional Affairs
 
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SMITH BERNAL WORDWAVEB1/2004/0996 Neutral Citation Number: [2004] EWCA Civ 946IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION) ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION (MR JUSTICE MCKINNON)Royal Courts of Justice Strand London, WC2 Wednesday, 30th June 2004 B E F O R E:LORD JUSTICE BROOKEVICE-PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL, CIVIL DIVISION LORD JUSTICE DYSON - - - - - - - ASHOK MAHAJAN Claimant/Appellant-v- DEPARTMENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS Defendant/Respondent - - - - - - -(Computer-Aided Transcript of the Palantype Notes ofSmith Bernal Wordwave Limited190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2AGTel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838Official Shorthand Writers to the Court) - - - - - - -The Appellant appeared on his own behalf MISS S CHAN (instructed by Treasury Solicitor, London SW1H 9JS) appeared on behalf of the Respondent - - - - - - -J U D G M E N T1. LORD JUSTICE BROOKE: There is before the court an application for a general civil restraint order made by the Department of Constitutional Affairs ("DCA"). They make this application in connection with Mr Mahajan's application for permission to appeal to this court against a judgment of McKinnon J on 28th April 2004.2. The DCA seeks a general civil restraint order for a period of two years on the grounds that (i) Mr Mahajan is a persistent and vexatious litigant; (ii) potential defendants require protection so that money is not spent defending frivolous claims; and (iii) the court's processes require protection from abuse. Their application is supported by a 19-page witness statement by Emma Curwen, a solicitor employed by the Treasury Solicitor. She has put before the court a helpful chronology which sets the scene for this application. It runs along the following lines.3. On 8th December 1999 Judge Ryland at the Central London County Court dismissed Mr Mahajan's claim against Vivianne Waldman and Sibell Associates for unpaid fees.4. On 25th July 2000 Tuckey and Jonathan Parker LJJ refused to order a transcript of the evidence and of the judgment given by Judge Ryland at public expense. They also refused permission to appeal.5. On 13th January 2001 Mr Registrar Baister refused to set aside a statutory demand issued by Mrs Waldman and Sibell Associates against Mr Mahajan for unpaid costs.6. On 12th April 2001 Mr Mahajan was made bankrupt.7. On 12th July 2002 Mr Mahajan applied to set aside the bankruptcy order and sought permission to issue proceedings for fraud and conspiracy against Mrs Waldman and others ("the eight defendants").8. On 23rd July 2002 Neuberger J refused permission to set aside Mr Mahajan's bankruptcy order and refused him permission to issue fraud and conspiracy proceedings against the eight defendants.9. On 29th November 2002 Aldous and Scott Baker LJJ dismissed an application by Mr Mahajan for a transcript of the proceedings before Neuberger J on 23rd July 2002 to be supplied at public expense.10. On 7th April 2003 Deputy Master Lloyd struck out Mr Mahajan's action alleging fraud and conspiracy against the eight defendants.11. On 15th May 2003 Patten J dismissed Mr Mahajan's application for an order that his application for permission to appeal against Deputy Master Lloyd's striking-out order be conducted by the Master of the Rolls sitting with a full bench of the Court of Appeal. Patten J also dismissed Mr Mahajan's application for a tape and transcript of the hearing before Deputy Master Lloyd to be provided at public expense.12. On 9th June 2003 Patten J again dismissed Mr Mahajan's application for a copy of the tape and transcript of the hearing before Deputy Master Lloyd to be provided at public expense. Mr Mahajan then sought permission to appeal against this and the earlier related order of Patten J.13. On 16th July 2003 Deputy Master Joseph ordered that Mr Mahajan should file a bundle of documents complying with the Practice Direction to CPR Part 52, failing which his application for permission to appeal Patten J's order of 9th June 2003 would be dismissed. Mr Mahajan then applied for this order to be reviewed by the court pursuant to CPR 52.16(5).14. On 4th September 2003 Rimer J refused to make an order for costs against court staff and refused Mr Mahajan's application that his application for permission to appeal against Deputy Master Lloyd's decision should be listed before a specially designated judge. Mr Mahajan then sought permission to appeal against that order, too. 15. On 28th November 2003 Mr Mahajan instituted judicial review proceedings against the Court Service, Civil Appeals Office.16. On 4th December 2003 on considering the papers, Collins J refused Mr Mahajan permission to apply for judicial review against the Civil Appeals Office. He said, in his own handwriting:"This court has no jurisdiction to review matters within the Court of Appeal. Any complaint you may have about listing must be raised before the Court of Appeal. Your vituperative anti-semitic nonsense cannot assist any claim you may have."Those comments were made in manuscript. The order was then typed. Mr Mahajan, to show the kind of litigant he is, is now asking this court to consider whether simply because the word "vituperative" could not be read in Collins J's handwriting and the word "interpreter" was put instead and somebody then altered it, this was somehow or other a case of a member of the court's staff altering what Collins J had said.17. On 10th December 2003 a division of this court (consisting of myself, Sedley and Latham LJJ) imposed a two-year extended civil restraint order against Mr Mahajan, restricting him from making applications to the Court of Appeal concerning the eight defendants without the prior permission of one or other of the three members of the court. Just before making that order, the court had dismissed Mr Mahajan's applications for permission to appeal against the orders of Patten J of 15th May and 9th June. We refused to alter Deputy Master Joseph's order of 16th July 2003, and we also refused permission to appeal Rimer J's order of 4th September 2003. On that occasion I said in my second judgment:"During the course of my earlier judgment, I described some of the expressions used by judges of the court in dismissing Mr Mahajan's applications on earlier occasions because they were, in essence, totally devoid of merit. These three applications have revealed vividly that, unless restrained in some way, Mr Mahajan will continue to waste the time of this court in making hopeless applications. Mr Tolley [advocate to the court] has greatly assisted us by drawing our attention to the principles set out by the judgment of the Master of the Rolls in Bhamjee v Forsdick (No 2) [2003] EWCA Civ 1113; [2004] 1 WLR 88, and, following the principles set out in that judgment, given that Mr Mahajan's litigation in this court can appropriately be described as both persistent and vexatious, I consider that it will be appropriate to make [the order that we made that day]." 18. On 21st January 2004 there was an oral hearing before Sullivan J of Mr Mahajan's renewed application for permission to apply for judicial review against court staff and judges at the Central London County Court. This was the matter on which we heard Mr Mahajan's applications for permission to appeal on Monday of this week. We stayed one of them and we dismissed the other, but they related to anxieties Mr Mahajan had about the procedure in the Central London County Court for refusing him transcripts of judgments at public expense.19. On 13th February 2004 Mr Mahajan attended the Civil Appeals Office and lodged two notices of appeal against the decisions of Sullivan J to which I have just referred. He also sought to lodge two appeal notices against decisions made by Patten J which had the effect of dismissing Mr Mahajan's applications for permission to appeal against two orders of Judge Cooke in the Central London County Court. The Civil Appeals Office staff refused to issue these appeal notices on the direction of Deputy Master Joseph. He considered that this court lacked jurisdiction, in accordance with the principles set out by the judgment of this court in Jolly v Jay [2002] EWCA Civ 277, when I was concerned to explain what should be done when a litigant refused to accept the clear statement by Parliament in section 54 of the Access to Justice Act and insisted on seeking to appeal the refusals of a lower appeal court to grant permission to appeal to itself. In this context Mr Mahajan has asked me to look at the file to see if there is some order of Patten J which did not amount to a refusal of permission to appeal which might in theory be appealable to this court, and I told him on Monday that I would look at the file.20. On 27th February 2004 Mr Mahajan brought a claim against the DCA ("Claim 0600") complaining of breaches of his human rights in relation to the actions of court staff at the Civil Appeals Office 14 days earlier.21. On 5th March 2004 Mr Mahajan's renewed application for permission to apply for judicial review against the Civil Appeals Office (in the case in which Collins J had refused permission to appeal on...

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