Lawrence v Lord Norreys: HL 1890

The plaintiff brought an action for recovery of possession of an estate, relying on events which had occurred 70 years earlier. The plaintiff had already brought a case which was dismissed on the grounds that it was statute-barred. The plaintiff then sought to start another case based on an allegation of concealed fraud. That was struck out as frivolous.
Held: The court set out the principles involved in exercise of its discretion to strike out under the summary procedure and prevent a case from proceeding to a trial. The claim was struck out as involving ‘a tissue of improbabilities ‘which ought not to be sent to proof: ‘It cannot be doubted that the Court has an inherent jurisdiction to dismiss an action which is an abuse of the process of the Court. It is a jurisdiction which ought to be very sparingly exercised, and only in very exceptional circumstances. I do not think its exercise would be justified merely because the story told in the pleadings was highly improbable, and one which it was difficult to believe could be proved.’


Lord Herschell


(1890) 15 AC 210


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedGuinness Peat Group Plc v British Land Company Plc and others CA 18-Dec-1998
The claimant, a minority shareholder, had said that the defendant had acted prejudicially in transferring the company’s only substantial asset to another company. The respondent said that since the shares had always been of nil value they could not . .
CitedWenlock v Moloney CA 1965
The plaintiff alleged a conspiracy to deprive him of his shares and interest in a company. Each side filed affidavit evidence raising issues of fact. With no oral evidence or cross examination on the affidavits, the Master, after a four day hearing, . .
CitedHess v Horncastle Properties Limited WA Horncastle (Builders) Limited CA 6-Nov-1998
It was alleged that signatures on plans attached to a conveyance were not those of the party. A witness said that only the document itself had been signed. They now appealed against a strike out of their claim.
Held: ‘it will be only in the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice

Updated: 17 May 2022; Ref: scu.228984