Arbuthnot Latham Bank Limited; Nordbanken London Branch v Trafalgar Holdings Limited; Ashton and Ashton: CA 16 Dec 1997

The issue was the appropriateness of a Court striking an action out where there has been considerable delay if: (i) the cause of action relied upon by the plaintiff in the proceedings would be statute barred if the action were to be struck out, but (ii) the plaintiff has another cause of action upon which he has not so far relied for recovering the money or property the subject matter of the existing action and the cause of action is subject to a longer limitation period which has not expired, and (iii) if the original action is struck out, the probabilities are that fresh proceedings will be commenced which will rely upon the cause of action which is not statute barred.
Held: The importance of abiding by time limits under the new case management regime was re-enforced again by the court.
Lord Woolf MR said: ‘The question whether a fresh action can be commenced will then be a matter for the discretion of the court when considering any application to strike out that action, and any excuse given for the misconduct of the previous action: see Janov v Morris [1981] 1 WLR 1389. The position is the same as it is under the first limb of Birkett v James. In exercising its discretion as to whether to strike out the second action, that court should start with the assumption that if a party has had one action struck out for abuse of process some special reason has to be identified to justify a second action being allowed to proceed.’
He also discussed the abuse of process, saying: ‘Whereas hitherto it may have been arguable that for a party on its own initiative to in effect ‘warehouse’ proceedings until it is convenient to pursue them does not constitute an abuse of process, when hereafter this happens this will no longer be the practice. It leads to stale proceedings which bring the litigation process into disrespect. As case flow management is introduced, it will involve the courts becoming involved in order to find out why the action is not being progressed. If the Claimant has for the time being no intention to pursue the action this will be a wasted effort. Finding out the reasons for the lack of activity in proceedings will unnecessarily take up the time of the court. If, subject to any directions of the court, proceedings are not intended to be pursued in accordance with the rules they should not be brought. If they are brought and they are not to be advanced, consideration should be given to their discontinuance or authority of the court obtained for their being adjourned generally. The courts exist to assist parties to resolve disputes and they should not be used by litigants for other purposes.’


Lord Woolf MR


Times 29-Dec-1997, [1998] 1 WLR 1426, [1997] EWCA Civ 2999, [1998] 2 All ER 181, [1998] CLC 615




England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedUCB Corporate Services Ltd (formerly UCB Bank plc) v Halifax (SW) Ltd CA 6-Dec-1999
It was proper to strike out a claim for abuse of process where the party had been involved in a wholesale disregard of the Civil Procedure Rules and of court orders. The court has a range of remedies appropriate to the degree of such disregard. . .
CitedArrow Nominees Inc and Another v Blackledge and Others CA 22-Jun-2000
A petition had been lodged alleging unfair prejudice in the conduct of the company’s affairs. The defendants alleged that when applying for relief under section 459, the claimants had attempted to pervert the course of justice by producing forged or . .
ApprovedAshton and Another v Securum Finance Ltd CA 21-Jun-2000
In the new litigation culture it was correct to strike out a second action which fundamentally re-litigated a case which had previously been struck out on the grounds of abuse of process or delay. The court’s case management required it to consider . .
CitedWahab v Khan and Others; In re Abdus Sattar Sheikh deceased ChD 12-Apr-2011
The claimant had asked the court to revoke the probate granted in his brother’s estate. He appealed now against a strike out of his request. He alleged that the will was a forgery. The executor’s and defendants were not relations of the deceased, . .
CitedPanamax Star Owners and or Bailees of The Cargo of The Ship) v Auk (Owners of The Ship) AdCt 18-Dec-2013
A strike out was sought alleging gross delay and an abuse of process.
Held: The strike out was granted both as to the claim and counter claims.
Hamblen J discussed first the issues surrounding delay: ‘In summary, the authorities provide . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice

Updated: 13 November 2022; Ref: scu.143398