QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE MITTING
|H M ATTORNEY-GENERAL||(CLAIMANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR ADAM TOLLEY (instructed by Treasury Solicitor, London) appeared on behalf of the CLAIMANT
The Defendant appeared in person
Crown Copyright ©
(i) the order dated 21 September 2001 should be further extended;
(ii) an order should be made restraining Mr Ebert from corresponding or in any way communicating with any judge or officer of the Court Service in an insulting or abusive manner;
(iii) an order should be made restraining Mr Ebert from making any application at all under section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 to institute any proceedings or make any application concerning, relating to, or in any way, whether directly or indirectly, touching upon his bankruptcy (by order dated 22 July 1997) or the proceedings leading thereto, the validity of the assignment (dated 22 June 1996) and/or the judgment debt on which his bankruptcy was based, the appointment or conduct of his trustee in bankruptcy or the repossession or sale of 23 Cranbourne Gardens, London NW11."
"Conclusion on the merits
48. Mr Ebert is wholly obsessed with his complaints about the events surrounding the Midland Bank's judgment, the assignment, and the earlier history relating to Europride. One can readily see how, initially, he felt he had been unjustly treated: his co-guarantor Mr Morris Wolff had escaped all liability to the Midland Bank because of his brother's intervention. But the legality of the arrangements relating to that, and in particular to the assignment of the bank's judgment debt to Mr Ralph Wolff, were decided long ago; indeed they have been decided many times. Mr Ebert's repeated attempts to open it up all over again constitute, in my view, a very extreme instance of vexatious litigation.
49. Mr Ebert's obsessions have cut him away from reality, and he is, unfortunately, entirely unable to appreciate the hopelessness of any further process he may commence to challenge the judgment, assignment, or bankruptcy order; to say nothing of his past actions. That is a misfortune, for it means that he will leave this court with an aggravated sense of injustice; but it is a melancholy fact that that is usually the case with truly vexatious litigants. This case, however, is to my mind extreme by reason of two factors. The first is the sheer scale of Mr Ebert's persistence. The Treasury Solicitor on the Attorney's behalf despite best efforts has been unable to log or record all the applications which Mr Ebert has made. By now it may be into the hundreds. The second is that although Mr Ebert is entirely deluded as to the merits of all the kaleidoscopic features of his case, he has in my judgment acted not only misguidedly, but - being the intelligent and resourceful man which he undoubtedly is - also maliciously, in some dimensions of this wretched tale. His applications to commit Mr Rabinowicz and Mr Osuntokun are one instance. His assertion of forgery of the bank statement when it was resurrected before Laddie J in January 2000 is another: he knew perfectly well that the accusation had been gone into by Rimer J, armed with the original document.
50. Mr Ebert's vexatious proceedings have in my judgment been very damaging to the public interest: quite aside from the oppression they have inflicted on his adversaries. It is wholly lamentable that Neuberger J should have been required to spend what must have amounted to hundreds of hours of working time preparing for and dealing with Mr Ebert's grotesquely unmeritorious applications. The point is not merely one of sympathy for the particular judge (though if I may say so I regard Neuberger J's sure and certain patience in this whole saga as wholly admirable). Judges have to hear and decide whatever cases are properly listed before them; and, as Laddie J has pointed out, given that Mr Ebert was going to make these applications it was desirable, however burdensome, that they be consistently listed before Neuberger J who from an early stage had a close acquaintance with the detailed facts. Had they been listed randomly before different judges, the waste of time would surely have been all the greater. The real vice here, apart from the vexing of Mr Ebert's opponents, is that scarce and valuable judicial resources have been extravagantly wasted on barren and misconceived litigation, to the detriment of other litigants with real cases to try. It is trite but true that a s.42 order is draconian. That is why the court examines cases like this with particular scrutiny. In this instance, the public interest urgently requires that Mr Ebert be comprehensively barred from the doors of the civil courts. I think, moreover, that this conclusion is reinforced, although on the facts any reinforcement is certainly unnecessary, by the terms of the overriding objective stated in CPR 1."
In a brief supporting judgment Silber J said that he agreed that Mr Ebert's conduct on seeking repeatedly to relitigate points was "a very extreme instance of vexatious litigation". He later said that the Attorney-General's case was "uniquely strong".
"I have spent some time in this judgment analysing the contents of the various applications for permission in order to make it clear that Mr Ebert has failed to produce any new evidence or indeed any new arguments which might justify the issue of further proceedings. On the contrary each of the applications relies on essentially the same or similar points to those previously considered and rejected by the Courts. It cannot be right for any further court time to be spent on this matter. I was left at the end of the hearing before me with the clear impression that Mr Ebert has either lost touch with the realities of his position or is simply concerned to maintain a vendetta against those whom he regards as the architects of his bankruptcy regardless of the merits of his case and with no regard for the consequences for other court users."
"15. There has also been extensive correspondence from Mr Ebert to Patten J (to which his Clerk has had to respond) and to myself, not limited to that necessary to make the numerous applications referred to. There have been many other letters, for example, purporting to make requests for correction of data pursuant to the Data Protection Act 1998, demanding production of documents which had previously been supplied to Mr Ebert, reiterating applications already determined by Patten J, seeking 'clarification' of rulings made by Patten J, or making serious but spurious allegations about Patten J and me. I am advised and believe that such correspondence, not confined to that necessary for the purpose of making applications pursuant to s.42, is in breach of the terms (specifically paragraph 2) of the Order of 21 September 2001.
16. In addition, much of the contents of Mr Ebert's correspondence has been abusive and insulting, mostly directed either at Patten J or myself. While I acknowledge that it is necessary to have a thick skin, at least to some extent, in doing the job that I do, and also in relation to the work of a Judge, much of Mr Ebert's correspondence is completely unacceptable. I personally have been caused concern by some of the allegations that have been made and it is quite unpleasant, and indeed occasionally distressing, to have to deal with it. One of the first examples of such correspondence, directed at Patten J, is Mr Ebert's letter of 12 December 2001, in which he called the Judge 'a liar', and invited him to take action in response. This is a recurring theme in this kind of correspondence from Mr Ebert. He appears to have been deliberately attempting to provoke an adverse reaction, such as the bringing of proceedings for contempt against him. By way of other examples (and there are many more instances than those I mention below), Mr Ebert has made the following accusations in his correspondence:-
(1) In his letter of 14 December 2001 to Patten J, he accused him of 'high treason'.
(2) In a letter dated 18 September 2001, Mr Ebert accused Patten J of 'perjury, 'bias, 'acting unreasonably', 'high treason' and 'perverting the due course of justice', alleged that he is 'not fit to sit as a Judge and in any event in any case and/or hearing relating to Ebert' and purported to request written confirmation that the Judge would not sit on any of Mr Ebert's cases.
(3) On 31 December 2001 Mr Ebert wrote to me, claiming that a crime had been recorded against Patten J on 19 December 2001 in respect of 'torture, pervert the due course of justice, theft, perjury', accusing him of being 'unreasonable, bias, corrupt and a liar' and asking that no hearing or application should be presented to Patten J in respect of Mr Ebert.
(4) In a letter dated 11 June 2002 to me, Mr Ebert made the most extraordinary comparison between the conduct of Court business under my management and the operation of the Nazi Gestapo.
(5) On 26 June 2002 Mr Ebert wrote to Patten J, (addressed 'To the Criminal, Mr Justice Patten'), alleging that his ruling of 13 June was 'an unlawful interference with the Court proceedings and statutory duty with the intention to avoid a crime shall come to light and justice and pervert the due course of justice', that he had 'abused his position as a judge' and was 'acting as a solicitor to defend a crime', suggesting that he had been bribed, accusing him of lying in his ruling, and continuing to demand redress pursuant to his application of 6 June. Mr Ebert also invited Patten J to take appropriate action if he believed that his letter was 'untrue and defamation, which amounts to contempt of court'.
(6) In a letter dated 9 July 2002 to me, Mr Ebert threatened me with criminal proceedings if I did not comply with his demands to amend an order which had been made.
(7) On 10 July 2002 Mr Ebert wrote to Patten J, alleging, in respect one of his Rulings, the production of 'an untrue and false document with the intention to defraud', 'high treason', 'aiding and abetting a crime (fraud, torture)', inviting him to take contempt and defamation proceedings, threatening to circulate the letter, demanding that the Judge will not deal in any of the Ebert family's matters, and stating 'Give up or Shut up!!!!!'.
(8) In a letter dated 6 November 2002, Mr Ebert accused me of being 'a member of the dark forces in this country'.
(9) On 16 January 2003 Mr Ebert wrote to me, referring to Patten J as 'the criminal Mr Justice Patten', insisting that he should have a hearing of his application on 2 January and threatening action against me personally.
(10)In an application dated 23 January 2003, Mr Ebert falsely accused Patten J of having admitted that he was 'abusing his power and position for private gain'. There was never any such admission, and of course no such conduct ever occurred. However, it is Mr Ebert's frequent practice to state at the end of his letters that if there was no response to them, the lack of response would be treated as an admission of the contents of Mr Ebert's letters. This stance is, of course, completely unreasonable, but appears to have led to Mr Ebert making this false allegation against Patten J.
(11)In a letter dated 27 November 2003 Mr Ebert made an allegation against Patten J, which he has since frequently repeated, that he was 'guilty of High Treason and is using the Court Service and facilities as his private business to produce false statements for private gain'.
(12)On 1 February 2004 Mr Ebert wrote to the Lord Chancellor and made a number of allegations about Patten J and me, for example, 'Re: Organised crime controlling the Chancery Division ... by members of the bench, Officers of the Court, who are assisting offenders', 'Member of the Judicial Bench of the Chancery Division who are using their position and court facilities to defraud and torture the public on a daily basis', 'On 14th January 2004 Mr Justice Patten had made an Order allowing his criminal associates to dispose of all the family assets, private belongings and family treasures, which has been collected for many hundreds of years, which I put a value of one billion pounds. I verily believe that Mr Justice Patten has a share in the profit of the "proceeds of crime"'. Mr Ebert purported to request that both Patten J and I should be suspended from duty.
17. There is, of course, not the slightest basis for any of Mr Ebert's allegations and none of them ought to have been made at all. As of the date of this statement I am still receiving correspondence from Mr Ebert of a similar nature to that described in paragraph 16 above.
18. I should emphasise that on numerous occasions the Clerk to Patten J (Mr Trout) wrote to Mr Ebert, no doubt at the learned Judge's request, asking that all correspondence should be routed through Mr Trout, and none of it sent to me. I was grateful for these interventions on my behalf, but unfortunately none of them had any effect on Mr Ebert's conduct, and he continued to write to me in the same way and in the same vein as before."
"[I]t is clear from the written decisions of a number of the judges who have been required to deal with Mr Ebert's applications that they all arise directly from the same grievances which he formerly pursued in the civil courts. It would appear from the chronology as though Mr Ebert only turned to the criminal law when his journey through the civil courts was finally ended. As such, his attempts to pursue these grievances through the criminal courts represent merely the most recent manifestation of a campaign that is now almost ten years old."