BOMBARDING THE COURT: AN IMPORTANT POSTSCRIPT

There is an important postscript to the judgment of Lady Justice King in Agarwala -v- Agarwala [2016] EWCA Civ 1252. It sets out the dangers of “bombarding” the court with communications and applications.   It sets out a course of action that may allow courts, in extreme cases, to cease to respond to communications from the parties.

THE CASE

The Court gave a judgment which modified the way in which damages should be assessed. The case was remitted to the judge for assessment of damages on the modified basis.

THE POSTCRIPT

  1. This litigation has been running almost continuously now for seven years. It has taken up countless court and judge hours as both parties, incapable of compromise, have bombarded the court with endless applications, such that Ms Jones now tells the court the judge has had to make orders that neither party may make an application without the leave of the court. The refusal of either party to accept any ruling or decision of the court has meant that the court staff and judge have been inundated with emails, which they have had to deal with as best they could, with limited time and even more limited resources. The inevitable consequence has been that matters have been dealt with “on the hoof” on occasion without formal applications or subsequent decisions being converted into formal rulings or orders.

  2. Whilst every judge is sympathetic to the challenges faced by litigants in person, justice simply cannot be done through a torrent of informal, unfocussed emails, often sent directly to the judge and not to the other parties. Neither the judge nor the court staff can, or should, be expected to field communications of this type. In my view judges must be entitled, as part of their general case management powers, to put in place, where they feel it to be appropriate, strict directions regulating communications with the court and litigants should understand that failure to comply with such directions will mean that communications that they choose to send, notwithstanding those directions, will be neither responded to nor acted upon.

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