QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE DAVID STEEL
|HER MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY GENERAL|
|- v -|
|VERONICA BERYL FODEN|
Smith Bernal, 190 Fleet Street, London EC4
Telephone No: 020 7421 4040
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
appeared on behalf of THE CLAIMANT
THE DEFENDANT did not appear and was not represented
Crown Copyright ©
Thursday 7 April 2005
LORD JUSTICE LAWS:
"(1) If, on an application made by the Attorney General under this section, the High Court is satisfied that any person has habitually and persistently and without reasonable ground --(a) instituted vexatious civil proceedings, whether in the High Court or any inferior court, and whether against the same or against different persons; or
(b) made vexatious applications in any civil proceedings, whether in the High Court or any inferior court, and whether instituted by him or another;
the court may, after hearing that person or giving him an opportunity to be heard, make a Civil proceedings order....
(1A) In this section --
'civil proceedings order' means an order that --(a) no civil proceedings shall without leave of the High Court be instituted in any court by a person against whom the order is made;
(b) any civil proceedings instituted by him in any court before the making of the order shall not be continued by him without the leave of the High Court;
(c) no application (other than one for leave under this section) shall be made by in any civil proceedings instituted in any court by any person, without the leave of the High Court;
(2) An order under subsection (1) may provide that it is to cease to have effect at the end of a specified period, but shall otherwise remain in force indefinitely."
Subsection (3) makes provision for applications for leave to the High Court as contemplated in the definition of "civil proceedings order".
"The hallmark [of applications under section 42] is that the claimant sues the same party repeatedly and in reliance on essentially the same cause of action, perhaps with minor variations, after it has been ruled against upon, thereby imposing on defendants the burden of resisting claim after claim; that the claimant relies on essentially the same cause of action, perhaps with minor variations, after it has been ruled upon, in actions against successive parties who, if they were to be sued at all, should have been joined in the same action; that the claimant automatically challenges every adverse decision on appeal and that the claimant refuses to take notice of or give effect to orders of the court. The essential vice of habitual and persistent litigation is keeping on and on litigating when earlier litigation has been unsuccessful and when, on any rational and objective assessment, the time has come to stop."
"Mrs Foden is a compulsive litigant. She refuses to accept the judgment of the court relating to [her mother's house]. .... Mrs Foden's litigation .... has swallowed up virtually all her mother's estate.... It is a sad case under which a line should be drawn."
"The reality is that she has failed in her action involving her mother, in the action with the Birmingham Midshires and she has been dissatisfied with the outcome of the matrimonial proceedings.
Those matters have all gone to appeal. She has sought to litigate every aspect of everything. There is hardly a stone left unturned and very little purpose is served by this litigation, save to permit Mrs Foden to quench her thirst for further litigation."
The defendant sought to appeal Judge Overend's order, alleging amongst other things bias and lack of jurisdiction.
"upon all cases before judges in Exeter Circuit 1989-1999"
on the grounds, amongst other things, that
"I am of the opinion the judiciary concerned in each case have failed to assimilate the facts before them and address where relevant the applicable law and all the circumstances."
The defendant's claim form in Action No 10 concluded with this assertion:
"Numerous county court judgments have been made against me obviously and I have been discredited, in my opinion, unfairly, and suffered horrendous financial destruction which I believe could be put in order by this judicial review."
In Action No 10 also it is plain that the defendant was seeking to reopen judicial decisions which had related to the property litigation and also to reopen Action No 4, a claim against the solicitors Messrs Wolferstans.
"18. Mrs Foden has opened a further line of collateral attack by bringing two sets of proceedings against the Lord Chancellor's Department (actions 15 and 33). Both actions are plainly vexatious attempts to re-open past disputes. The Claim Form in action 15 opens with a claim for, 'Damages for failing to provide .... justice'. The Particulars of Claim then contain a detailed rehearsal of much of Mrs Foden's litigation. The Claim Form in action 33 is similar -- claiming: 'Damages for unreasonable judicial decisions 1990-2002', which were 'to be assessed in excess of a million pounds'.
19. A yet further species of collateral proceedings undertaken by Mrs Foden is to be seen in her protracted attempts to set aside statutory demands issued in respect of costs orders made against her (actions 14 and 23). Mrs Foden treated these statutory demands as an opportunity to re-litigate the issue that had led to the costs orders being made against her and (in at least one case) to allege fraud against the judge who made the costs order. His Honour Judge Overend having dismissed one of her applications to set aside and struck out the other, Mrs Foden appealed each application to the single judge of the Chancery Division. Lloyd J having heard and dismissed both appeals together, Mrs Foden appealed to the Court of Appeal, where her appeals were heard together be Peter Gibson LJ. In dismissing the appeals he said:'12. I do not doubt that Mrs Foden is genuine in her believe that she is the victim of an injustice. She feels that the solicitors who have defended her claim against them are in the wrong. She feels no less strongly that the judges who have decided points against her are equally wrong, and worse. But to make generalised accusations, as she does, of bias and malice and the like against such judges is, in my view, regrettably, particularly when to any objective observer there is no evidence of such serious misbehaviour. Lloyd J was at pains to explain to Mrs Foden that the issue before him was a very limited one.
13. It is not good Mrs Foden seeking to ge back to other cases which have run their course and could not be reopened before Judge Overend, Lloyd J or this court. If there was fraud, then there should have been a separate action brought within time against those whom she was accusing of fraud. Whether such an action would survive would depend on what Mrs Foden could substantiate. The only question for Lloyd J was whether Judge Overend was right to refuse to set aside the statutory demand. The crucial fact is that each statutory demand is based on costs orders which were then, and still are, standing. To refuse to set aside the statutory demand in the circumstances was not biased or malicious. Any judge true to his judicial oath would have done the same.'"
"a. Mrs Foden's conduct of the debt recovery action brought against her by Transport Repair Garage (action 6). The claimant issued a small claim in respect of an unpaid repair bill of £350 odd plus VAT. Judgment having been entered against Mrs Foden at the arbitration hearing, the limited appeal regime rendered her attempts to appeal to the circuit judge and thence to the Court of Appeal entirely without foundation.
b. The personal injury action in which Mrs Foden was the claimant (action 5/7) is also striking. The defendant admitted liability and at an assessment of damages (in July 2001), at which Mrs Foden was represented by counsel, the District Judge awarded her all the special damages she claimed and £6,500 general damages -- which was the sum that had been sought by her counsel. Despite this apparent complete victory, Mrs Foden has launched a series of appeals and applications, which it appears may still be continuing. These appeals and applications were plainly wholly without any underlying merit."
"This matter was a possession action by Birmingham Midshires Building Society seeking to enforce a charge over Clevedon [the bungalow]. The action was commenced in March 1994 but did not reach judgment until March 2000, at which point it was held that the defendant should pay Birmingham £96,000 outstanding under the mortgage. The defendant disputed the rate of interest which had been agreed under the charge and alleged that it had been altered after signature, but the judge found as a fact that the rate had been properly agreed. She also contended that she had been released from the charge at the same time that her mother had been released from a charge in relation to collateral security which the mother had provided by way of a charge over Glen View. This contention was also rejected by the judge who also found that the defendant's mother had also effected a charge on Clevedon which prevented the defendant from freely disposing of that property. The consequence was that the defendant was saddled with the charge over Clevedon, could not freely dispose of it and lost a substantial amount of money on the property which had greatly dilapidated. Whilst one can understand the defendant's upset at the adverse outcome of the action, it does not warrant the subsequent attempts to re-open findings made against her."
"An application to adjourn has already been made to the County Court and refused by District Judge Moon on 8 March 2005 [the reference is given]. A request for reconsideration was dismissed and/or an appeal was dismissed by His Honour Judge Overend on 16 March 2005 on the merits. The court refused to accept the authenticity of the medical sick note tendered. The County Court has refused to entertain further applications from the applicant without leave of the High Court under paragraph (3) of the order of 7 October 2003. In her affidavit of 31 March 2005, the applicant has failed to explain the coincidence which led the judge to reject the medical certificate. Furthermore the applicant proceeds in her affidavit to identify the grounds upon which the bankruptcy order should not be made. I do not consider the applicant has even now provided satisfactory evidence that she may be unfit to attend the bankruptcy hearing. This is merely a repetition of the application dismissed by Judge Overend."