And the 23rd Claim…

As a tale of vexatious litigants, HM Attorney General v Ford & Anor [2008] EWHC 2066 (Admin) has it all. Mysterious changes of identity, admitted perjury, repeated applications for judicial review of refusals to give permission to appeal, and appeals of refusals, all resulting from a claim for leasehold enfranchisement by three leasehold tenants.

Two years after the leasehold enfranchisement vesting order against an absentee landlord, David Sayers, in 2001, a Mr (sometimes Captain) Daniel Ford and Mrs Liubov Ford appeared from abroad and applied to have the order set aside, claiming to have obtained the title by adverse possession some years before and had built a garage (the ‘coach house’) on the property. The application was dismissed, permission to appeal on paper refused, then refused again in oral application. In this hearing Mr Ford stated that his previous statement was knowingly false and that he was, in fact, David Sayers.

After a series of failed appeals on the costs order resulting from this proceeding, the Fords then applied to have the LVT proceedings on valuing the property discontinued on the basis that he was now shown to be the legal owner. In this Mr Ford claimed he hadn’t said he was David Sayers before because he didn’t think he could prove that he was using that name. This application was refused, after a three day hearing.

A possession claim was brought against the Fords for part of the wider property that they were occupying, but not the Coach House parcel, which remained registered to David Sayers. The Ford’s application to strike out was refused, they sought to appeal, with permission refused by the High Court and Court of Appeal. The interim injunction orders against them also faced failed appeal applications to High Court and Court of Appeal. At a eight day possession hearing, where the Fords claimed over 12 years adverse possession, a possession order was made, with Mr Ford’s evidence described as untruthful in many parts.  The Fords were refused permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Committal proceedings for non-compliance followed. 28 days in prison were followed by a further 42 days, after an unsuccessful appeal to the full Court of Appeal. The Fords had simply returned to the property and told the Court of Appeal they had no intention of relinquishing it.

There followed a small success for the Fords in judicial review of the LVT valuation of the property, which included the specific Coach House lane, which was actually under a separate title number and still owned by ‘David Sayers’. The Fords then attempted to stay the LVT proceedings for a further flurry of applications, appeals and JR applications, including struck out attempts to reopen the intial case, JR applications against the County Court for dismissing yet another application to set aside the possession order and so forth, just about all of which were taken to application for permission to the Court of Appeal (all refused). The Fords’ other limited success was against the police for the conduct of the execution of the warrant of possession.

Not even bankruptcy, brought about by Lambeth, stopped the Fords. A flurry of attempts to overturn the order, with allegations of conspiracy between Lambeth, the tenants and the Attorney General, followed.

The Official Receiver discontinued all the outstanding proceedings. The Fords either sought Judicial Review of those decisions  to discontinue or attempted to pursue proceedings independently. All the claims were dismissed or struck out, permissions to appeal refused.

Meanwhile the tenants waited, and still wait on for the seven year old vesting order to finally bear fruit.

The Fords resisted the Attorney General’s application to have them declared vexatious litigants, arguing that where they had lost their cases this was:

due to judicial bias or disfavour against litigants in person, who are seen as a nuisance to the court system, and who are not given proper attention by the courts, and therefore do not receive proper justice.

The Court of Appeal saluted Mrs Ford, the principal advocate for the Fords, for her ‘courage and persistence’, noted their two limited successes and declared them vexatious litigants under section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981, requiring permission of a High Court judge to bring any further proceedings.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Housing law - All, Leasehold and shared ownership, Possession and tagged , , , , .

5 Comments

  1. Out of curiosity – I googled the names of the VLs and, aside from the HMCS list [containing the name of a ‘would be’ client whose ‘case’ I [and others] refused to take on], discovered an intriguing decision of the Privy Council concerning Mrs Ford in Gibraltar. ‘What does not break me – makes me stronger’?

  2. A golden oldie case of this type is at:

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/1998/619.html

    …but the only bit you need to read is:

    “4. Before turning to the substance of the application let me deal briefly with three preliminary matters. The first is as to the names now used by these respondents. The first respondent now purports to call himself Lord Charles Leslie Falconer of Thoroton. The second respondent purports to call herself John Morris, and indeed they claim, and may well be right in claiming, that they have changed their names by Deed Poll in that manner.

    5. According to an affidavit sworn by the second respondent on 8th June 1998 in the name of John Morris, they have taken that action:

    “… in protest against section 42 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 in order to lampoon both the Solicitor General and the Attorney General whom we consider to be champagne socialists and pratts …”

  3. @Usefully Employed: I’d noted Lord Falconer’s presence on the vexatious list before, but thanks for the case reference. A classic of the genre, in underlying tragedy as well as in inadvertent comedy. But no housing law involved, so doesn’t get the NL seal of noting..

  4. Just a perverted tale of being set up by the Establishment.
    Were they really expected to win? Against the Attorney General?

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