H. W. B. Page, Q.C., Commissioner and Jurats Kerley and Blampied
Treasurer of the States
G. G. P. White, Esq., Crown Advocate.
Mr Syvret appeared on his own behalf.
1. This judgment concerns the adjourned hearing on 25th July of a matter that came before this Court on 5th March this year.
2. The essential features of the earlier hearing, which was the subject of a written judgment of the Court dated 17th March, 2014, were as follows:-
"1 By summons dated 31st January, 2014, addressed to the defendant, Mr Syvret, The Treasurer of the States gave notice that judgment in an amount of £67,859-80 was sought against Mr Syvret in respect of costs ordered by the Royal Court and the Court of Appeal and that he should attend the Royal Court on 14th February if he wished to defend the claim. The matter was subsequently adjourned initially to 14th February and then to 5th March. The Treasurer of The States was represented by Advocate Gregory White and Mr Syvret appeared in person....
On 4th March:-
"3 On the day prior to the hearing before us, and on the morning of the hearing itself Mr Syvret gave notice in lengthy e-mail letters addressed to the Bailiff's Judicial Secretary that he strongly objected to my assignment to the case and that he would be seeking the recusal of "the court" (apparently the entire court)".
For the reasons given in our judgment of 17th March, 2014, the application, which had been set out at considerable length in Mr Syvret's e-mails, was declined. In addressing the e-mail sent on the morning of the hearing itself, we made, among others, the following observations:-
"The e-mail proceeded to list thirteen "factors", expressed in wide-ranging, generalised terms, alleging unlawful antecedent proceedings, structural defects in the court system and the appointment of members of the judiciary, human rights abuses, judicial corruption, misconduct in public office, conspiracies, racketeering and the like. All this, however, was no more than a further attempt to rehearse once again a number of themes previously well publicised by Mr Syvret and would have been an abuse of the current proceedings: proceedings which, moreover, are of very limited scope. It was, accordingly, made clear to Mr Syvret that the Court was not prepared to allow him to use the occasion of this summons as a platform to air extravagant views of this kind which could not possibly afford a defence to the summons with which we are concerned."
There did not appear to be any challenge by Mr Syvret to the fact that there were taxed costs orders against him in the amount claimed and that they had not been paid. However, the summons itself gave no particulars of the source of the debt the subject of the claim beyond "Court Costs ordered by the Royal Court and the Court of Appeal", omitting to specify the proceedings, the Acts of Court or the taxation certificates in question. This appeared to us to be unsatisfactory:-
"2 It may be suggested that, if the claim were to be contested, particulars of the debt claimed would be supplied in accordance with the provisions of Rule 6/6(3) of the Royal Court Rules. But that does not meet the point of principle that, at least in the case of a simple, liquidated amount, any defendant should be able to see from the summons itself exactly what debt is claimed. It is, moreover, essential that, in circumstances where judgment may be given in short order if the defendant does not appear to defend the claim, there should be no doubt as a matter of record as to the identity of the debt the subject of the judgment. In the present case, the need for precision in specifying the proceedings, the orders and the taxation certificates in question is all the greater given the multiplicity of proceedings that there has been involving Mr Syvret."
Among Mr Syvret's submissions, one point alone appeared, possibly, to be novel and potentially relevant. As explained more fully in our previous judgment of 17th March this year, it turned on a letter addressed (it appears) to Mr William Malcolm, legal counsel to Google Inc ("Google"), by Appleby and dated 31st December, 2013; Appleby's client being the Jersey Data Protection Commissioner ("the Data Commissioner"). The letter made reference to the Data Commissioner having first contacted Google in November 2008 regarding her concerns in relation to a blog owned and operated by Mr Syvret. This, said, Mr Syvret was previously unknown to him and gave rise to all kinds of serious questions concerning the safety of his prosecution and conviction and the validity of the court proceedings in which the costs orders the subject of the current summons were made. In these circumstances, he submitted, the only proper order for this Court to take was to adjourn the matter indefinitely in order to allow him to pursue these matters. We commented on this as follows:-
"8 As far as we could see this was the only point of any possible coherence on which Mr Syvret sought to suggest that there might be a viable defence to the current summons. But, in saying that, we do not mean to suggest in any way that the point appears to have merit. Nor is the matter one that is open to this Court to explore: the only route by which Mr Syvret could take the matter further would be if he were to succeed in obtaining leave to appeal out of time whatever proceedings he contends are affected by the disclosure in Appleby's letter and the chances of that are likely to be slim. Apart from anything else, it is by no means obvious that the mere fact that the Data Commissioner was in contact with Google as early as 2008 necessarily has any bearing on the outcome of any of the proceedings with which we are concerned on the present summons."
3. In these circumstances we ordered that the matter be placed on the pending list; that the Treasurer of the States should within 21 days file and serve on Mr Syvret particulars of his claim, specifying the precise proceedings, costs orders and taxation certificates in question; and that time for filing of Mr Syvret's answer to the claim should be extended to 3 months from receipt of such particulars as regards, and only as regards, any assertion that the costs orders the subject of the summons are invalid by reason of the fact, as disclosed in Appleby's letter to Google of 31st December, 2013, that the Data Commissioner was in communication with Google in November 2008.
4. As was spelt out in the final paragraph of our previous judgment, the purpose of the extension of time for Mr Syvret to file an answer was that it gave him an opportunity to seek leave to appeal out of time such of the costs orders with which we are concerned as he might think are affected by the content of Appleby's letter to Google of 31st December, 2013; were he to succeed in any such application he would be able to plead that fact by way of answer to the summons and all further consideration of the matter would, no doubt, be adjourned pending the outcome of that appeal; but, were the specified three month period to elapse without any such leave having been obtained, the Treasurer of the States would be at liberty to bring the matter back to this court with a view to seeking final judgment.
5. Following that hearing, on 13th March the requisite Particulars of Claim the subject of the summons were duly filed with the Court by Advocate White on behalf of the Treasurer of the States and served by the Viscount on Mr Syvret. As those Particulars show, each of the costs orders in question arose out of applications or claims made by Mr Syvret himself in one or other of the various sets of proceedings in which he has been involved and is the subject of a taxation certificate dated either 24th or 25th April, 2012, the bulk of the claim (£52,059 out of a total of some £67,859) being accounted for by the order for costs made by the Royal Court against Mr Syvret in respect of a claim for damages made by him against the Attorney General.
6. On 16th June, 2014, over 3 months from service of such Particulars having elapsed without Mr Syvret filing any defence, notification was given to Mr Syvret that the Treasurer of the States proposed to apply under Rule 6/6(6) for judgment in default of an answer. Subsequently a hearing date for that application before this court was fixed for 25th July and accordingly the matter came back before us last Friday. As on the previous occasion, the Treasurer of the States was represented by Advocate Gregory White and Mr Syvret appeared in person.
7. Once again, as on the previous occasion, on the evening before the day of the hearing (after 8:00pm on this occasion) the Bailiff's Judicial Secretary received a lengthy e-mail submission from Mr Syvret repeating his objection to my sitting as a member of the Court, saying that he was engaged in preparing a detailed recusal application against me, and contending that the following day's hearing should be adjourned pending completion of this application. (From oral observations made on the previous occasion and again on 25th July it would appear, however, that his objections extended to the other members of the Court as well.) For the rest, the position remained that no answer to the summons was filed.
8. In the event, the first point taken by Mr Syvret at the sitting of the Court was that it was improper for the Deputy Judicial Greffier, Mr Paul Matthews, to sit as court greffier on the ground - alleged by Mr Syvret - that, at the time of Mr Syvret's prosecution, Mr Matthews had been aware of, but had failed to disclose, the existence of a witness who could have been of significant assistance to Mr Syvret's defence. However, the contention that this was sufficient to require Mr Matthews's withdrawal was entirely without merit. His prospective role in the proceedings - proceedings moreover of a very limited scope - was plainly no more than administrative: there was certainly no possibility of his influencing the Court's decision in any way whatsoever. We accordingly declined to direct his withdrawal. Mr Syvret's consequential applications for leave to appeal and for an adjournment pending application to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal were, accordingly, also refused. (As it happens, the reason that Mr Matthews was fulfilling the role of court greffier was that the Judicial Greffe was short-staffed that day, so that it is unlikely that a substitute for him could have been found at short notice: not that that would have been a reason for him not withdrawing had circumstance otherwise warranted such a course.)
9. Mr Syvret then sought to develop his contention that he should be allowed more time to complete what he called "a full and evidenced and reasoned" application for my recusal - and that of the entire Court. But it was evident that the basic themes were the same as on the previous occasion, that this was yet another attempt to use the hearing as a platform for airing wide-ranging allegations, against a host of persons that have nothing to do with the matter in hand. We accordingly refused to allow him to re-open a matter on which we had previously ruled. Leave to appeal and an application for an adjournment in order to allow an application for leave to be made elsewhere were also refused.
10. One further point, in this context, requires mention. In answer to the Court's observation that Mr Syvret appeared not to have attempted to appeal our previous rejection of his call for the members of the Court to recuse themselves, Mr Syvret claimed that he had wanted to appeal but had been prevented from doing so by an order issued by me, ex parte after the 5th March hearing, prohibiting him from making use of the transcript of that hearing that he had obtained from the Courts' Transcription Service; this, he said, had made it impossible for him to take (pro bono) legal advice in connection with an appeal. At the time of the hearing I had no recollection of any such order and Mr Syvret was unable to produce a copy of it or to give details of its content and form beyond saying that it was signed by me. However, subsequent enquiries of the Court Transcription Service have confirmed that an order in my name was indeed issued on 9th April to coincide with e-mail notification to Mr Syvret that the requested transcript had been completed and was ready to be collected. The terms of the order, the issue of which - I was informed at the time - was standard procedure and not peculiar to Mr Syvret, were as follow: "1) THAT the Greffier shall forthwith release to the Respondent a copy of the transcript of the proceedings of the hearing which took place on 5th March, 2014. 2) THAT, save only for the purpose of obtaining legal advice in connection with any appeal or save for the inclusion in any document required to be filed in connection with any appeal, the Respondent hereto shall not reproduce or distribute any part of the transcript of the said proceedings without the express written permission of the Court. 3) THAT any contravention of this Order shall be regarded as a matter of contempt and be punished accordingly". Mr Syvret's suggestion that this order precluded him seeking legal advice for the purposes of an appeal is, accordingly, plainly incorrect. Any doubt in Mr Syvret's mind on the point could, moreover, clearly have been resolved by an application to the Court for permission to make use of the transcript for this purpose.
11. Mr Syvret's final contention was that he should be permitted a further extension of time, beyond that granted on the previous occasion, in which to pursue the matter of Appleby's letter to Google of 31st December, 2013, seeking leave from the Court of Appeal to appeal out of time, and filing an answer to the summons the subject of the current proceedings. He had, he claimed, been thwarted in his attempt to make progress with the matter so far because Google had failed to give him access to the relevant documentation and without such access he would now have to prepare and launch an application for equivalent disclosure by the Data Commissioner - all of which would take time. But Mr Syvret is sufficiently experienced in court procedure to know very well that for a last-minute application of this kind to have any serious prospect of success the Court needs, at the very least, to see credible evidence that the earlier extension of time has been put to good use, that obstacles said to have been encountered are real and substantial and that there is good reason for the application for a further extension of time being left until the last minute rather than being made promptly when the case for further time first arose. This would be exactly the same for any other litigant. As it is, no such evidence was offered, either by way of correspondence with Google or otherwise, of what efforts Mr Syvret has in fact made to pursue this matter in the course of the four and a half months that have elapsed since the hearing on 5th March. Nor was there any obvious reason why application for an extension of time had not been made until now. In short there appeared to us to be no justification for granting any further extension of time and we declined to do so. Here again, we refused leave to appeal or to adjourn the hearing pending application for leave elsewhere.
12. Mr Syvret is at pains to cast himself in these proceedings as a victim of injustice. But the claim is a simple one for debt; the existence of these outstanding taxed costs orders is not challenged; in each case they are the consequence of applications and claims of Mr Syvret's own making; and the more than fair opportunity given to him on the occasion of the previous hearing to pursue a line of inquiry that might conceivably have laid the ground for a substantive challenge to some part of the claim has come to nothing.
13. For these reasons, The Treasurer of the States was fully entitled to judgment on his summons in default of Mr Syvret filing any answer to it and we so ordered.
Treasurer of the States-v-Syvret  JRC 070.