Stobart Group Ltd and Others v Elliott: QBD 11 Apr 2013

The defendant applied to the court for various officers of the cliamant companies to be subject to contempt proceedings. The claimants asked the court to strike of the defendant’s counterclaim and to make a civil restraint order against him. There had been long standing disputes between them.
Held: The court found that the initial threshold had been achieved in respect of a few allegations. The court went on to consider the approach in different stages of litigation, saying: ‘there is a strong public interest in emphasising the dangers of making false statements in witness statements that are known to be untrue or which are made recklessly, not caring whether or not they are true. This interest applies to all statements in whatever type of proceedings they are deployed. The reasons are obvious – In the context of civil justice, false statements place innocent parties at risk of being deprived of, rather than vindicating, their rights and entitlements or increasing their liabilities, false statements increase the cost of litigation for innocent parties and increase the burden on the public by lengthening trials and hearings unnecessarily thereby delaying other cases needlessly, and/or increasing the cost to the public of providing a civil justice system, and increasing the number of appeals.
There is however a particular and additional public interest that applies in relation to statements deployed in support of (or which confirm as true information supplied to judges in support of) without notice applications. It has long been the case that parties applying to the court without notice owe a duty to the court to disclose everything known or which could reasonably be ascertained by them that might be relied on by the respondent to such an application as an answer to it. To fail in that duty is to expose such a respondent to the risk of very serious injustice that may but often is not readily compensated by a cross undertaking by the applying party to make good any loss sustained as a result of the order sought being wrongly granted.’
Three of the allegations here were as to statements made on without notice allegations.
As to the alleged tort of abuse of process: ‘for a claim for abuse of process to succeed a claimant must be able to show at the very least that in commencing and continuing the litigation concerned, the claimant was or is pursuing an ulterior purpose unrelated to the subject matter of the litigation and that, but for the ulterior purpose, he would not have commenced proceedings. Even then the claimant is limited to recovering damages for injury to reputation, for imprisonment and to recover the costs of defending the relevant proceedings.’
The tort of malicious prosecution was not available outside criminal proceedings and a closed class of civil proceedings, none of which were relevant here. The defendant’s counterclaim was accordingly without merit and was to be struck out.

Pelling QC J
[2013] EWHC 797 (QB)
Civil Procedure Rules 81
England and Wales
CitedNield and Another v Loveday and Another Admn 13-Jul-2011
The court considered the institution of proceedings for contempt of court based upon an allegation that a document filed in court proceedings and supported by a statement of truth was false. In this case the defendant argued that the first claimant . .
CitedMalgar Ltd v R E Leach Engineering Ltd ChD 1-Nov-1999
The Civil Procedure Rules could not change the substantive law. It therefore remained necessary for it to be shown that in addition to knowing that what was said was false, the party had to have known that what was being said was likely to interfere . .
CitedBerry Piling Systems Ltd v Sheer Projects Ltd TCC 28-Feb-2013
The defendant sought permission to bring contempt proceedings against former directors of the claimant company, saying that by means of false evidence they had secured an arbitration verdict.
Held: A reckless disregard for the truth or falsity . .
CitedKirk v Walton QBD 24-Jul-2008
The defendant sought leave to bring proceedings for contempt of court against the claimant saying that she had had no honest belief in the matters deposed in her statement of truth, in that she had substantially exaggerated her injuries.
Held: . .
CitedKJM Superbikes Ltd v Hinton CA 20-Nov-2008
The claimant had been sued for the misuse of trademarks by selling motorcycles imported via a parallel market. It claimed that the defendant had filed false evidence in that action, and now appealed a refusal by the judge to bring contempt . .
CitedGoldsmith v Sperrings Ltd CA 1977
Claims for Collateral Purpose treated as abuse
The plaintiff commenced proceedings for damages for libel and an injunction against the publishers, the editors and the main distributors of Private Eye. In addition, he issued writs against a large number of other wholesale and retail distributors . .
CitedSpeed Seal Ltd v Paddington CA 1985
The court was asked whether the defendant should be permitted to add to his pleadings a counterclaim asserting that the action was brought in bad faith for the ulterior motive of damaging the defendants’ business, and not for the protection of any . .
CitedMetall und Rohstoff AG v Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette Inc CA 1990
There was a complicated commercial dispute involving allegations of conspiracy. A claim by the plaintiffs for inducing or procuring a breach of contract would have been statute-barred in New York.
Held: Slade LJ said: ‘The judge’s approach to . .
CitedGregory v Portsmouth City Council HL 10-Feb-2000
Disciplinary proceedings had been taken by the local authority against Mr Gregory, a council member, after allegations had been made that he had failed to declare conflicts of interest, and that he had used confidential information to secure a . .
CitedWalton v Kirk QBD 3-Apr-2009
Coulson J considered RSC Order 52 to decide whether he had jurisdiction to hear a complaint of contempt of court arising from statements filed in County Court proceedings and said to be false.
Held: He did have jurisdiction: ‘At the outset of . .
CitedLand Securities Plc and Others v Fladgate Fielder (A Firm) CA 18-Dec-2009
The claimants wanted planning permission to redevelop land. The defendant firm of solicitors, their tenants, had challenged the planning permission. The claimants alleged that that opposition was a tortious abuse because its true purpose was to . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contempt of Court, Torts – Other

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.472544