D. Eves and HM Eves (Née Buchel) v Hambros Bank (Jersey) Ltd

JurisdictionJersey
CourtRoyal Court
JudgeBailhache, Bailiff:
Judgment Date19 June 2000
Date19 June 2000
ROYAL COURT
Bailhache, Bailiff:
née

A.D. Hoy for the plaintiffs;

K.O. Dixon for the defendant;

P. Matthews, Crown Advocate, for the amicus curiae.

Cases cited:

(1) Bastion Offshore Trust Co. Ltd. v. Finance & Econ. Cttee., 1994 JLR 370, applied.

(2) Bremer Vulkan Schiffbau & Maschinenfabrik v. South India Shipping Corp. Ltd., [1981] A.C. 909; [1981] 1 All E.R. 289; [1981] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 253; [1981] Com. L.R. 19; (1981), 125 Sol. Jo. 114, considered.

(3) Commonwealth Trading Bank v. Inglis (1974), 131 C.L.R. 311, not followed.

(4) Ebert v. Venvil, [1999] 3 W.L.R. 670, applied.

(5) Eves v. St. Brelade's Bay Hotel Ltd., 1995 JLR N-8; further proceedings, 1998 JLR N-5, considered.

(6) Gouriet v. Union of Post Office Workers, [1978] A.C. 435; [1977] 3 All E.R. 70; (1977), 121 Sol. Jo. 543, considered.

(7) Le Cocq v. de Gruchy, Royal Ct. (1909), 226 Ex. 204, unreported, considered.

(8) Le Couillard v. Renouf, Royal Ct. (1900), 220 Ex. 510, unreported, considered.

(9) Le Masurier (C.) Ltd. v. Alker, 1992 JLR 123, considered.

(10) Mayo Associates S.A. v. Cantrade Private Bank Switzerland (C.I.) Ltd., 1998 JLR 173, applied.

(11) Packer v. Packer, [1954] P. 15, dictum of Denning, L.J. applied.

(12) Stewart v. Auckland Transp. Bd., [1951] N.Z.L.R. 576.

Additional cases cited by counsel:

Att. Gen. v. Picot, 2000 JLR Part 1, N-10.

Barette v. Le Moignan, Royal Ct. (1899), 219 Ex. 452, unreported.

Harbours & Airport Cttee., In re, 1991 JLR 316.

Johnson v. Valks, The Times, November 23rd, 1999.

Pirunico Trustees (Jersey) Ltd. v. Jefferson Seal Ltd., Royal Ct., December 2nd, 1996, unreported.

Wooley, In re, 1991 JLR N-11.

Legislation construed:

Royal Court Rules 1992, r. 6/13:

"(1) The court may at any stage of the proceedings order to be struck out or amended any claim or pleading, or anything in any claim or pleading, on the ground that—

...

(b) it is scandalous, frivolous or vexatious; or

...

(d) it is otherwise an abuse of the process of the Court ..."

Supreme Court Act 1981 (c.54), s.42:

"(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 any reasonable ground—

(a) instituted vexatious legal proceedings ...

(b) made vexatious applications in any legal proceedings ...

the court may, after hearing that person, or giving him an opportunity to be heard, order—

(i) that no legal proceedings shall without the leave of the High Court be instituted by him in any other court ..."

Texts cited:

de Ferrière, Dictionnaire de Droit et de Pratique, vol. 1, at 685 (1769 ed.).

Houard, Dictionnaire Analytique, Historique, Etymologique, Critique et Interprétif de la Coutume de Normandie, vol. 2, at 714 (1780 ed.).

Jacob, The Inherent Jurisdiction of the Court, 23 Current Legal Problems 23 (1970).

Matthews & Sowden, The Jersey Law of Trusts, 3rd ed., at 204 (1993).

Courts—Royal Court—jurisdiction—inherent jurisdiction—inherent jurisdiction to prevent abuse of process by enjoining vexatious litigants from commencing or continuing proceedings without leave

The defendants sought orders enjoining the plaintiffs from commencing any proceedings or taking any further steps in existing proceedings against the defendants or any of their servants or agents without leave of the court.

There was a long history of litigation between the parties going back to 1992. The defendants maintained that it had become vexatious and sought to control further proceedings, submitting that the Royal Court had always had an inherent jurisdiction to grant the relief sought but, if it had not, then it should now claim that jurisdiction.

The plaintiffs submitted in reply that (a) there was no inherent jurisdiction to make the order sought as the jurisdiction was limited to procedural matters already before the court, and that the court ought not to claim it since depriving a litigant of a right of access to the court was such a serious matter that it should only be done under statutory authority; and (b) the draft Civil Proceedings (Vexatious Litigants) (Jersey) Law being considered by the States would not have been necessary if the court had the inherent jurisdiction claimed by the defendants.

The amicus curiae submitted that the absence of statutory provisions similar to those in England and Wales did not mean that the court did not possess inherent jurisdiction.

Held, ruling in favour of the defendants:

Approaching the matter from the standpoint of principle, paying close regard to precedent, the court did have jurisdiction to grant the relief sought.

(a) The absence of precedent was no bar to the existence of an inherent jurisdiction to grant the relief sought or to the assertion of such jurisdiction;

(b) a court should enjoy such powers inherent to its jurisdiction as were necessary to enable it to act effectively and suppress any abuses of its process, which would include preventing a vexatious litigant from relentlessly bringing proceedings against another party;

(c) a person had a legal right not to be subjected to vexatious litigation, which might be asserted by seeking to prevent the litigation being initiated without the leave of the judge; and

(d) inherent jurisdiction could co-exist with statutory jurisdiction, and the fact that a draft Civil Proceedings (Vexatious Litigants) (Jersey) Law was being considered by the States was not relevant, since even if it had been in force its provisions would not have been inconsistent with the inherent jurisdiction now being considered (page 228, line 38 - page 229, line 2; page 229, lines 21-39; page 230, lines 26-37; page 231, lines 6-17).

BAILHACHE, BAILIFF: Introduction This summons was issued by Hambros Bank (Jersey) Limited ("Hambros") in the context of proceedings instituted by the plaintiffs, David Eves and Helga Maria Eves ("the plaintiffs") in May 1998. The summons seeks orders—

"(a) that pursuant to the Royal Court's inherent jurisdiction the plaintiffs should ... be jointly and severally enjoined from commencing any proceedings or taking any further steps in existing proceedings (whether in the Royal Court or the Petty Debts Court) whatsoever against [Hambros]...

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