Hunter v Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police: HL 19 Nov 1981

No collateral attack on Jury findigs.

An attempt was made to open up in a civil action, allegations of assaults by the police prior to the making of confessions which had been disposed of in a voir dire in the course of a criminal trial. The plaintiffs had imprisoned having spent many years after conviction for IRA pub bombings in Birmingham.
Held: This was a collateral attack amounting to an abuse of process, not because of the limits of police immunity, but to provide an effective immunity. The purpose of the action was not in truth to obtain damages from the Chief Constable but to undermine the conviction. Unless debarred from doing so, defendants convicted after a full and fair trial who failed to appeal successfully, may challenge their convictions by suing advocates who appeared for them. Public policy requires a defendant, who seeks to challenge his conviction, to do so directly by seeking to appeal his conviction.
Lord Diplock said: ‘My Lords, this is a case about abuse of the process of the High Court. It concerns the inherent power which any court of justice must possess to prevent misuse of its procedure in a way which, although not inconsistent with the literal application of its procedural rules, would nevertheless be manifestly unfair to a party to litigation before it, or would otherwise bring the administration of justice into disrepute among right-thinking people. The circumstances in which abuse of process can arise are very varied; those which give rise to the instant appeal must surely be unique. It would, in my view, be most unwise if this House were to use this occasion to say anything that might be taken as limiting to fixed categories the kinds of circumstances in which the court has a duty (I disavow the word discretion) to exercise this salutary power.’
. . And ‘The abuse of process which the instant case exemplifies is the initiation of proceedings in a court of justice for the purpose of mounting a collateral attack upon a final decision against the intending plaintiff which has been made by another court of competent jurisdiction in previous proceedings in which the intending plaintiff had a full opportunity of contesting the decision in the court by which it was made.’

Lord Diplock, Lord Russell of Killowen, Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Roskill, Lord Brandon
[1982] AC 529, [1981] 3 WLR 906, [1981] UKHL 13, [1981] 3 All ER 727
Civil Evidence Act 1968 11
England and Wales
CitedReichel v Magrath PC 1889
The new vicar of Sparsholt, Dr Magrath, was able to rely on the abuse of process even though he had not been party to earlier proceedings between Reichel and the Bishop of Oxford and the Queen’s College and so was not bound by any issue estoppel . .
CitedStevenson v Garnett 1898
AL Smith LJ: ‘The court ought to be slow to strike out a statement of claim or defence, and to dismiss an action as frivolous and vexatious yet it ought to do so when as here, it has been shown that the identical question sought to be raised has . .
Appeal fromMcIlkenny v Chief Constable of the West Midlands CA 1980
The appellant had been convicted of an IRA bombing, causing loss of many lives. The appellant and his other co-accused alleged that their confessions had been induced by police violence. The trial judge ruled that their confessions were voluntary . .

Cited by:
CitedGribbon v Lutton and Another CA 19-Dec-2001
The defendant solicitors acted in obtaining and holding a deposit on the sale of land. They issued interpleader proceedings which decided that the deposit was payable to the purchaser. The vendor then sued the solicitors in negligence. The . .
CitedThe Secretary of State for Trade and Industry v Bairstow CA 11-Mar-2003
The Secretary of State attempted, in the course of director’s disqualification proceedings, to rely upon findings made against Mr Bairstow in an earlier wrongful dismissal action to which he had been a party but the Secretary of State not. The . .
CitedSmith v Linskills CA 1996
The claimant, a convicted burglar took proceedings against his former solicitors. He alleged that the negligence of the solicitor caused his wrongful conviction.
Held: The case was dismissed. The claimant was seeking to re-litigate issues . .
CitedArthur JS Hall and Co (A Firm) v Simons; Barratt v Woolf Seddon (A Firm); Harris v Schofield Roberts and Hill (A Firm) HL 20-Jul-2000
Clients sued their solicitors for negligence. The solicitors responded by claiming that, when acting as advocates, they had the same immunities granted to barristers.
Held: The immunity from suit for negligence enjoyed by advocates acting in . .
CitedDarker v Chief Constable of The West Midlands Police HL 1-Aug-2000
The plaintiffs had been indicted on counts alleging conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to forge traveller’s cheques. During the criminal trial it emerged that there had been such inadequate disclosure by the police that the proceedings were . .
CitedSweetman v Nathan and others CA 25-Jul-2003
The claimant had been engaged with his solicitor in a fraudulent land transaction. He now sought to sue the solicitor for negligence. The solicitor replied that the claimant was unable to rely upon his own unlawful act to make a claim.
Held: . .
CitedRegina v Chichester Justices ex parte Crowther Admn 14-Oct-1998
The defendant sought judicial review of an order made in 1998 issuing a warrant for his committal for failure to pay a confiscation order made in 1991. He had served 6 years imprisonment, and in default of payment a further 18 months. He was . .
CitedGood Challenger Navegante S A v Metalexportimport SA CA 24-Nov-2003
The claimant sought to enforce an arbitration award made in 1983. Time might otherwise have expired, but the claimants relied on a fax which they said was an acknowledgement of the debt, and also upon a finding in a Romanian court which created an . .
CitedKent Pharmaceuticals Ltd, (Regina on the Application of ) v Serious Fraud Office and Another Admn 17-Dec-2003
The claimant sought judicial review of the decision of the respondent to disclose documents obtained by it from them during an investigation.
Held: The decisions to disclose material to the DoH were ‘in accordance with law’ within the meaning . .
CitedPolanski v Conde Nast Publications Ltd HL 10-Feb-2005
The claimant wished to pursue his claim for defamation against the defendant, but was reluctant to return to the UK to give evidence, fearing arrest and extradition to the US. He appealed refusal of permission to be interviewed on video tape. Held . .
CitedRegina v Shanks CACD 19-Mar-2003
The appellant appealed his conviction for murder. He had shot his lover as she walked away from an argument. The fact of his conviction following mention of a guilty plea to possession of the firearm was complained of.
Held: The judge had . .
CitedRegina v Leeds Magistrates Court ex parte Serif Systems Limited and Hamilton Admn 9-Oct-1997
The applicant sought that summonses be set aside as an abuse of process, being begun to embarrass him as he set out to become an MP. Thirty one private summonses had been issued.
Held: Of the summonses to be continued it could not be said that . .
CitedLevey, Regina v CACD 27-Jul-2006
The defendant appealed against his conviction of manslaughter of his baby son. He said that a family court had previously investigated the same allegations and had explicitly found itself unable to say which of himself and the mother were . .
CitedRegina v Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court ex parte Fiona Watts Admn 8-Feb-1999
The defendant sought to have dismissed as an abuse of proces charges against her that as an officer of Customs and Excise prosecuting the now private prosecutor, she had committed various offences.
Held: The magistrate was vested with . .
CitedLaing v Taylor Walton (A Firm) QBD 20-Feb-2007
The claimant sought to pursue an action for professional negligence against his solicitors. They said that the action was an abuse being an attempted relitigation of matters already settled when a judge had decided that the defendants had not owed a . .
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 . .
CitedTaylor Walton (A Firm) v Laing CA 15-Nov-2007
The appellants appealed against a refusal to strike out as an abuse of process the respondent’s claim against them for professional negligence in the drafting of development agreements.
Buxton LJ considered the nature of the enquiry on such an . .
CitedAshley and Another v Chief Constable of Sussex Police HL 23-Apr-2008
The claimants sought to bring an action for damages after a family member suspected of dealing drugs, was shot by the police. At the time he was naked. The police officer had been acquitted by a criminal court of murder. The chief constable now . .
CitedIn re Norris, Application by Norris HL 28-Jun-2001
The applicant’s husband had been made the subject of a drugs confiscation order. Part of this was an order against the house. She had failed in asserting that the house was hers. Her appeal to a civil court had been disallowed as an abuse. It was . .
CitedSpecialist Group International Ltd v Deakin and Another CA 23-May-2001
Law upon res judicata – action estoppel and issue estoppel and the underlying policy interest whereby there is finality in litigation and litigants are not vexed twice on the same matter.
(May LJ) ‘the authorities taken as a whole tend to . .
CitedCheltenham Borough Council v Laird QBD 15-Jun-2009
The council sought damages saying that their former chief executive had not disclosed her history of depressive illness when applying for her job.
Held: The replies were not dishonest as the form could have been misconstrued. The claim failed. . .
CitedCalzaghe v Warren QBD 20-Jan-2010
The claimant boxer had secured judgement for fight fees from a company operated by the respondent manager and promoter. After the judgment the defendant had put the company into administration. The claimant now sought payment from the defendant . .
CitedVaughan v London Borough of Lewisham and Others QBD 11-Apr-2013
The claimant sought an order to restrain anticipated defamatory comments and evidence to be given to an employment tribunal.
Held: It could not be said as the claimant asserted that dfeences were bound to fail, and no determination should be . .
CitedHi-Lite Electrical Ltd v Wolseley UK Ltd QBD 17-Jul-2009
The claimant sought a contribution from the defendant towards its liability for a fire at its premises, as found in earlier proceedings against the now claimant. The defendant had filed a defence merely not admitting, and not denying, responsibility . .
CitedOMV Petrom Sa v Glencore International Ag ComC 7-Feb-2014
The claimant sought to have struck out as abuse of process parts of the defence, saying that the factual issues raised had already been resolved in arbitration proceedings, but as against a different oarty. The defendant replied that the arbitration . .
CitedMichael Wilson and Partners Ltd v Sinclair and Others ComC 21-Sep-2012
The claimant company alleged that the defendants had variously received assests (shares and cash) acquired by a former partner in the claimant company and held on his behalf, in breach of his obligations to the caimant partnership. The defendants . .
CitedSpicer v The Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis QBD 6-Jul-2020
The claimant alleged defamation. He had been acquitted of a criminal offence and said that material published by the defendant continued to imply or assert his guilt of the offence. The defendant argued truth. The claimant now sought a strike out of . .
CitedAmin v Director General of The Security Service and Others CA 26-Jun-2015
The claimant’s claims against the police had been struck out as a collateral attack on a criminal court decision.
Held: ‘If the former decision was made in criminal proceedings leading to a conviction, it is proper to focus attention on the . .
CitedAmin v Director General of The Security Service (MI5) and Others QBD 26-Jun-2013
The claimant sought damages for personal injury and false imprisonment.
Held: The claim was struck out as an abuse of process. There was an overlap with findings made against him in the Crown Court in a voir dire taking place in the course of . .
CitedTakhar v Gracefield Developments Ltd and Others SC 20-Mar-2019
The claimant appellant alleged that properties she owned were transferred to the first defendant under undue influence or other unconscionable conduct by the second and third defendants. The claim was dismissed. Three years later she claimed to set . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions, Police, Estoppel

Updated: 21 January 2022; Ref: scu.181062