House of Spring Gardens v Waite: CA 1991

The principle of abuse of process is capable of applying where the relevant earlier proceedings have taken place before a foreign court (Ireland). In this case the defendants argued that the judgment obtained in Ireland had been obtained fraudulently. The defendant was estopped from mounting what was in effect a collateral challenge to the decision of Egan J. It was an abuse of process.
Stuart Smith LJ said: ‘The question is whether it would be in the interests of justice and public policy to allow the issue of fraud to be litigated again in this court, it having been tried and determined by Egan J. in Ireland. In my judgment it would not; indeed, I think it would be a travesty of justice. Not only would the plaintiffs be required to re-litigate matters which have twice been extensively investigated and decided in their favour in the natural forum, but it would run the risk of inconsistent verdicts being reached, not only as between the English and Irish courts, but as between the defendants themselves. The Waites have not appealed Sir Peter Pain’s judgment, and they were quite right not to do so. The plaintiffs will no doubt proceed to execute their judgment against them. What could be a greater source of injustice, if in years to come, when the issue is finally decided, a different decision is in Mr. McLeod’s case reached? Public policy requires that there should be an end of litigation and that a litigant should not be vexed more than once in the same cause.’
Lord Chief Justice Cumming-Bruce said: ‘The court has the power (and, I would add, the duty) to take such steps as are practicable upon an application of the plaintiff to procure that where an order has been made that the defendants identify their assets and disclose their whereabouts, such steps are taken as will enable the order to have effect as completely and successfully as the powers of the court can procure.’
and –
‘The purpose of the cross-examination would be to elicit with greater particularity the extent and the whereabouts of the defendants’ assets. The background of applications for Mareva injunctions is often a situation in which it is urgently necessary for the court to intervene in order to assist the plaintiff to prevent the defendant from frustrating the object of the proceedings. In such a situation an order to cross-examine upon an unsatisfactory affidavit already filed is one of the courses that the court has jurisdiction to take. When such cross-examination takes place it is entirely a matter for the judge presiding on cross-examination properly to control it.’ . . And further noted: Mr Lyons Q.C. on behalf of the respondent Mr Garcia submitted that courts are slow to make such orders. I am not sure that that is correct, although I acknowledge that the defendants need protection from being treated as ‘debtors in advance’ as Lord Ackner acknowledged in A.J. Bekhor and Company Limited v. Bilton [1981] EWCA Civ 8; [1981] Q.B. 923, 942; [1981] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 491, 500. Also fishing expeditions must be prevented if that seems to be the object of the exercise. However it seems to me that the matter is at large and that it will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each particular case whether the exercise is unduly oppressive, unnecessary, insufficiently relevant, or whether the affidavit plainly requires better exposition that the deponent is prepared to give without the stimulus of cross-examination.’
Stuart Smith LJ, Lord Chief Justice Cumming-Bruce
[1991] 1 QB 241
England and Wales
ApprovedNana Ofori Atta (II) v Nana Abu Bonsra (II) PC 1958
(West Africa) Care must be taken in respect of the notion that merely standing by and waiting to see the outcome of a case in which the non-party has an interest, without more, involves an abuse of process. The parties now disputed title to land, . .
CitedWytcherley v Andrews 1871
Lord Penzance said: ‘There is a practice in this court, by which any person having an interest may make himself a party to the suit by intervening; and it was because of the existence of that practice that the judges of the Prerogative Court held, . .

Cited by:
CitedMotorola Credit Corporation v Uzan and others (No 2) CA 12-Jun-2003
World-wide freezing orders had been made under the 1982 Act. The defendants were members of a Turkish family with substantial business interests in the telecommunications industry. In breach of orders made in the US some defendants had sought to . .
CitedWiltshire v Powell and others CA 7-May-2004
The claimant sought a declaration as to the ownership of an aircraft. Saying he had bought it in good faith from E H and S, who in turn similarly claimed to have bought it from Ebbs. The defendant had obtained a judgment that he was owner as against . .
CitedJohnson v Gore Wood and Co HL 14-Dec-2000
Shareholder May Sue for Additional Personal Losses
A company brought a claim of negligence against its solicitors, and, after that claim was settled, the company’s owner brought a separate claim in respect of the same subject-matter.
Held: It need not be an abuse of the court for a shareholder . .
CitedThe Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation v Carvel and Another ChD 11-Jun-2007
The husband and wife had made mutual wills in the US with an express agreement not to make later alterations or dispositions without the agreement of the other or at all after the first death. The wife survived, but having lost the first will made a . .
CitedJSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov and Others QBD 16-Oct-2009
Application by the claimants for an order that the first defendant attend for cross-examination upon his affidavits as to assets and as to his answers to questions posed. . .
CitedXX and Others v YY and Others ChD 2-Jul-2021
The first defendant applies for an order that the claimants are not entitled to pursue legal action against his lawyers in respect of funds over which the claimants claim a proprietary interest and paid to the first defendant’s lawyers as legal fees . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 30 October 2021; Ref: scu.183512