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Should auld acquaintance…


In which we revisit a couple of old friends.

Mr Gopee of Barons Finance (and many other companies) continues to fare poorly in the RCJ. He apparently sought permission to appeal a couple of orders by HHJ Mackie QC, granting permission to appeal out of time and setting aside possession orders in two of the now numerous Barons Finance et al unlawful moneylending and possession cases.

Mr Gopee could only argue on behalf of Reddy Corporation, Barons Finance being in liquidation. But the applications for permission to appeal were going nowhere:

Mr Gopee complains that human rights are engaged because he has been deprived of an opportunity to argue his case. He complains, amongst other things, that the Defendants had admitted owing the money and that HHJ Mackie QC was simply applying a rubber stamp process.

Except that, as Lady Justice Gloster points out, there is the substantive hearing of the possession case yet to come. So there has been no Art 6 breach whatsoever. Referring to HHJ Mackie QC’s judgments:

He was clear that he was not making any findings as to the merits of the case, but he clearly considered that it was appropriate that the original orders should be set aside and that there should be a full trial when the consumer credit arguments and other arguments could be ventilated.

Permission to appeal refused. Mr Gopee’s many, many possession cases based on unlawful loans made by his companies, and most with possession orders now set aside, head onwards for final hearing, at some point.

We have also had cause to acquaint ourselves with Kevin Gregory and the set-up of which he is head, Legal Action/Charles Henry & Co (who from time to time styled themselves as Charles Henry Solicitors, despite not actually being solicitors). In August I noted a rather curious hearing – the transcript of which is here – concerning a civil restraint order being considered against Mr Gregory and possibly against Legal Action/Charles Henry.

I have now seen the judgment – which is here – and a CRO is indeed made against Mr Kevin Gregory.

The Court notes the oddity that

It thus seems that Legal Action as a registered charity is not required to conduct litigation with the authorisation of the SRA or to operate under its supervision or control.

And that while there appeared to be solicitors involved on occasion, the SRA had been looking into those.

It should perhaps also be added that it has been said that a number of individuals have been working as solicitors for Charles Henry & Co. Those solicitors do prospectively come under the auspices of the SRA and we gather that letters have been sent to them requesting information and documentation. Those letters have not been productive. It is not necessary to go into further details today; but that remains a matter for the SRA to pursue as it sees fit.

From the transcript of the hearing, it appeared that of the solicitors allegedly involved, Dr Eiland was in the USA, Mr McCarthy said ‘he only attended when asked to’ and Mr Perotti said he knew nothing about anything. One for the SRA.

The Court considers the litigation history.

The schedule which has been provided and which has been sent to Mr Gregory as well as to Charles Henry & Co and Augustine Housing Trust show a great number of cases in which the names of Charles Henry & Co, Mr Gregory himself and Augustine Housing Trust appear and, in respect of which, numerous proceedings or applications have failed and sometimes badly so. A copy of that schedule is to be taken as appended to this judgment of mine. It also seems quite plain that Charles Henry & Co have on occasion been retained to act on behalf of the various parties named as claimants in the relevant proceedings.

There are numerous defects identified. These, amongst other things, include failure to comply with court orders, failure to provide proper updates to court staff on request, serious procedural deficiencies, and the like.

In short, the conduct of litigation was disastrous, and sufficient numbers of case brought were verified ‘totally without merit’ for the CRO to made out against Kevin Gregory. The CRO hearing was adjourned against Legal Action/Charles Henry & Co and Augustine Housing Trust, pending possible changes in trustees.

But Legal Action/Charles Henry and Augustine Housing Trust may have other problems. The Court notes, with bewilderment

We have been told that the activities of Legal Action have been referred to the Charity Commission. This was, indeed, some years ago and it is somewhat disconcerting that even now, in the middle of August 2014, no firm or decisive action seems to have matured or accrued as a result: although it apparently has been said that an action plan has been proposed, albeit it may be that it has not thus far been complied with.

Well, finally Legal Action do face further action from the Charity Commission, because the action plan wasn’t complied with. A statutory inquiry has been announced. The objects of the inquiry are:

  • the charity’s lack of co-operation and non-compliance in connection with the charity’s failure to implement the Action Plan
  • the trustees’ discharge of their duties as trustees
  • whether the charity is operating in accordance with its objects for the public benefit

The trustees are Kevin Gregory, Keith Gregory and Dr Javaad Ahmed.

There has been confusion over the existence of Keith Gregory before – with some judgments suggesting he and Keith Gregory are the same. Indeed the CRO judgment notes:

I should add that, in a number of instances, proceedings or applications have been dismissed as totally without merit involving an individual called Mr Keith Gregory. There has been some suggestion by a High Court Judge in a previous case that Mr Keith Gregory is one and the same as Mr Kevin Gregory. Mr Kevin Gregory has disputed that: although of course he has not been before us to explain himself on this.

I understand that Keith Gregory is a member of CILEX and has been at times described as a legal executive at Legal Action/Charles Henry. It might be that CILEX would also take an interest.

As ever, we should make clear that ‘Legal Action’ have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Legal Action Group, who are generally wonderful.

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.



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