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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘judgment

High Court Order Against Greg De Hoedt.

with 3 comments

Order 220514

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High Court Judgment On Greg De Hoedt.

with 6 comments

Reynolds v De Hoedt
Hearing note – 22 May 2014
Royal Courts of Justice
Master Bard in Chambers
Application to set-aside Default Judgment of 23 February 2014

JUDGMENT

Greg De Hoedt

Greg De Hoedt

1. This is an application to set aside a Default Judgment of 23 February in a libel action brought by the Claimant.

2. The Defendant has been represented by Mr McLean. The Claimant was represented by a Mackenzie friend, who is a pupil, who addressed me in terms clear and modest, and perfectly proper.

3. The temperate nature of the hearing has not been matched by the matters which have gone on between the parties. The Claimant is president of CLEAR which is campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis. The Defendant and others used to be with CLEAR but departed in circumstances described at best as acrimonious and became associated with NORML which has similar aims. As it happens there has been a great deal of unpleasantness and vituperation. As far as I can tell it has been largely one way and directed at the Claimant, who has brought libel proceedings against three defendants.

4. The evidence shows that the Defendant was not responsive or receptive to approaches from the Claimant to seek to get him to desist publishing numerous defamatory allegations on the internet and not prepared to provide an address for service. When the Claimant used the business premises associated with the Defendant and the Defendant’s parent’s address on both occasions the documents were returned. The Defendant states that he had not been given the documents or told about them. This is something I am asked to view askance, suffice to say Master Eastman was prepared on seeing the Sheriff’s documents showing contracts at a particular address to make an Order deeming that an address for service.

5. Default Judgment was granted on 23 February. On 26 February the Claimant notified the Defendant by email. On 14 March the Defendant’s Solicitor went on record. On 26 March about 28 days after the judgment was granted the Application was made to set-aside.

6. The Claimant is seeking damages and an injunction and Master Eastman did not have power to grant an injunction and he directed when entering Judgment that it was for the Claimant to list the application for an injunction before a judge. This is due on 4 June

7. I have not so far gone into the detail of the allegations made and complained of in the Particulars of Claim. I should start by commenting that a considerable amount of what has been said by the Defendant can only be characterised as puerile, as to the publications and the response which has arisen from attempts by the Claimant to be in contact with him. Although the Defendant contends that the Claimant directed tirades at him I have seen no evidence of this. The way the Claimant has expressed himself has been surprisingly temperate given the nature of the allegations published. Without going into any details the substance includes that he has paedophilic tendencies, he has reported cannabis users to the police, a serious allegation for him, that he has been pocketing large sums of money from CLEAR and that he has been given to exposing himself on the internet. I take these as a snapshot and there are other allegations.

8. I am asked to set-aside Default Judgment in circumstances where the Defendant is coming from a place which is less than attractive. Not only has he posted these puerile allegations on the internet, not only has there been apparent attempts to avoid service, as has been seen from what was tweeted by himself there is a certain kind of mockery over the Claimant’s attempt to gain redress. The Defendant produced a Witness Statement. In it he says that the Claimant has regularly subjected him to abuse by email, including making threats to take legal action. Apart from proper and understandable threats about publications I can seen no evidence at all of any regular abuse on the part of the Claimant against the Defendant. Further, although the Defendant says in his Witness Statement that will raise substantive defences he does not seek to do so at all.

9. In all these circumstances, Mr McLean properly in seeking to address me on the set-aside Application has not focused on condition (a) because subject to the pleadings point he acknowledges that the Defendant has not put forward evidence to that effect but that there is another good reason the Defendant should be allowed to defend the claim.

10. I have to bear in mind questions of whether the Application was made promptly…… It does not seem to me that this will be determinative of the matter. It seems that the Defendant within 2 weeks or so of learning of the Judgment had solicitors on record. Within 12 days they filed the Application to set aside the Judgment. I am not prepared to say that this is so tardy as to cause discretion to be exercised against the Defendant.

11. Because of the Defendant’s unattractive behaviour and him making it difficult that I should rely on those as good reason to decline to consider discretion rather than exercise it as he has not come to Court with clean hands. That makes the Defendant’s position unattractive but if there is a good reason to set aside then that ought not to stand in his way although it may stand in costs.

12. The strongest point that Mr McLean makes is his attack on the Particulars of Claim because he says for various reasons they are defective. I have no intention of going into details of criticisms some of which are better than others. Most of the criticisms are directed towards the point that the extent of publication cannot be known, that there is not enough material to assess damages, that sometimes the words used are not sufficiently or properly pleaded or particularised, that the claim for exemplary damages is inappropriate, that pleading malice as freestanding is inappropriate

13. I am told that Master Eastman has struck out a claim against Bovey but that is not a claim in identical form to this and not knowing the basis I am not bound by that. The Claimant acknowledges the force in some observations by the Defendant. His desire is not to seek substantial damages, not least because he recognises the difficulty of enforcement, but rather to get a judgment in his favour and an injunction to support it. He has indicated that he would be satisfied with nominal damages to have this matter dealt with once and for all, a sum of £5.

14. There is force in some of Defendant’s criticism, exemplary damages would not be awarded, malice is inappropriately pleaded but there is a good deal of material in the Particulars of Claim in publications printed off the internet which are attached to it which does meet with sufficient standards to stand up as adequate pleading it may be if matters are to go further pleadings may have to be considered

15. I have to deal with this in a manner which is proportionate and an efficient use of the Court’s resources. In exercise of my discretion, the Defendant cannot complain about the Particulars, given his failure to respond he cannot complain about judgment at £5 and a order for costs against him with the Claimant going for an injunction .

16. In regards to the Particulars of Claim, whatever particulars can stand that up as a matter to which there is no defence, there is no real prospect of successfully defending, on the material, even if pleaded by an expert, there is no good reason why judgment should be set aside or varied … nominal damages are assessed at £5, I am dismissing the application and the Claimant has costs of the Application and the action.

17. Upon hearing the solicitor for the Defendant and the Claimant in person with the assistance of a Mackenzie friend, and upon the Claimant reducing his damages to nominal damages of £5, I order;

1. Application to set aside dismissed
2. Damages assessed at £5
3. Defendant to pay the Claimants’ cost of the Application and of action to date.

COSTS

18. I will assess the litigant in person’s costs now…..Total at £18/hour. There is nothing objectionable in this. This is summarily assessed at £5000.

PERMISSION TO APPEAL

19. I am asked permission to appeal on two grounds:

1. To enlarge the Defendant’s Witness Statement
2. That the claim should be stuck out because of the way in which it is pleaded

20. I do not agree on 1. There is nothing put forward by way of real prospect so this cannot amount to a ground of appeal

21. As far as the 2nd is concerned there is no current application to strike out the claim, merely an Application for setting aside, I have expressed the view for the purposes of a judgment for nominal damages that there is easily sufficient pleadings for it to be inappropriate to set aside, it would be a wasteful use of the Court’s resources and disproportionate. Therefore I refuse permission to appeal

22. Really this is not a seemly way for anyone to conduct a genuine political campaign to be behaving. This is the sort of thing which would give that campaign a bad name… Mr McLean please pass on to your client that he should reflect on this.

23. In the same way it should be understood that it can be inflammatory to crow about a victory. I can understand any step into the right direction affords personal satisfaction. However, it must be in the interest of parties, the legal system, and the cause for this to come to an end. They are not flying the flag in an appropriate manner.

Download Greg De Hoedt’s Witness Statement

Download Peter Reynolds’ Witness Statement

Download Defendant’s Skeleton Argument

Download Claimant’s Skeleton Argument

 

Britain’s Elder Statesman

with 19 comments

In A Proud And Honourable Tradition

William Hague is a British politician we can be proud of.  I agree with almost every word he says.  The only subject on which we diverge is Trident.  I see no point at all in this massively expensive white elephant.  Everything that can be achieved by possessing a nuclear weapon is achieved by just one warhead capable of use on a variety of delivery methods.  Our generals don’t want Trident.  We should listen to their advice.

Hague’s time as PM was an unhappy one and it is true that his judgment can be a little wobbly at times but only on trivial matters such as dress code.  His presence, intelligence and dignity endow him with a magnificent stature that commands not just the conference platform but the world stage.  He makes Labour politcians look either like spiteful, spotty schoolboys or grumpy old codgers with dinosaur attitudes and medieval manners.

He is the perfect foil to David Cameron.  Truly, this is a wonderful partnership which will enable Britain to regain its place as a world leader.

The BBC’s Absurd Level Of Coverage Of The Pope

with 3 comments

This has been another grave error of judgment by the BBC.

According to the 2001 census there are 4.2 million Catholics in the UK.  According to the 2005 Church census, just 887,000 are regular worshippers.  Does this justify the absurd level of wall to wall coverage we have had to endure over the last four days?

It looks totally disproportionate to me.  More like some sort of subversive attempt by religious zealots to impose their superstitious beliefs on the rest of us.

If any other group can prove nearly a million regular supporters in the UK will the BBC guarantee equivalent coverage?

With 96 straight hours of guaranteed airtime, whoever you are, whatever your “act”, you’ll easily be able to fill Hyde Park and venues all over the country. You’ll make a fortune!

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm

OFT – Incompetence, Conspiracy, Paper Tiger Or All Three?

with 3 comments

I’m one of the lucky ones.  I recovered over £2000 of illegal penalty charges from the Nationwide and HSBC a couple of years back before the High Court stayed all the claims.  I had the great pleasure of walking into HSBC’s Kilburn branch with a judgment stamped by the Bow County Court (local to its Canary Wharf headquarters).  I demanded my money there and then and created a right hiatus in the branch!  I didn’t get it then but I did the following day in crisp £50 notes.

Den Of Thieves

It goes without saying that the banks are all, without exception, cheats, thieves, liars and lowlife scoundrels.  That’s why millions of people were relying on the Office Of Fair Trading to stand up for them.  The OFT’s decision now to drop their action against the banks is a national disgrace of monstrous proportions.  Although we cannot be sure of exactly who is behind this scandal, the fact that dishonesty, corruption and theft are at the root of it is manifest and crystal clear.

The banks were making around £7 billion a year in charges, most of which were for unauthorised overdrafts.  Claimants would have been able to claim for six years of charges so the banks have been let off a £40 billion hook.  Never have the British people been so let down by those who are supposed to protect them.

The High Court first made the extraordinary decision that these charges were not penalty charges.  This is nonsense.  HSBC actually described many of their charges to me as “card misuse” – so is that a penalty or not?.  Of course they were and as such were illegal and unenforceable at law.  When the banks debited your account like this they were committing theft and they’ve got away with it scot free.

It has now been well established that the actual cost to the banks of these transactions were less than £2 each when they were charging their customers up to £40 a time.

It must be truly astonishing to any right minded person that the OFT has backed down.  Even in the last Supreme Court judgement the OFT was given a clear hint, more like an invitation, that it should revert to the Court on a different basis.  So what possible reason can there be for abandoning the claim?

There can be no doubt that this decision is improper.  I wonder why it was announced on 22nd December when the entire country was at the peak of its pre-Christmas mass hysteria?

Two Faced Coward

John Fingleton, the OFT’s chief executive, should resign immediately.  He is either corrupt or weak.  He certainly has no integrity because whatever pressure or bribery has been put upon him he should have fought to his last breath to stop this massive crime by the banker robbers.

We cannot rely on these paper tigers of consumer protection.  We certainly cannot rely on government.  It is doubtful that our self-serving, whipped and bullied MPs will do anything meaningful.   It seems the only option now may be molotov cocktails through the door of every bank premises throughout the country.   How else are we supposed to protect ourselves when we are so badly let down?

We live in an entirely monetised society.  It is impossible to function without a bank account.  Therefore, the banker robbers must be regulated virtually to death.  Their policies and profits must be ruthlessly controlled.  Their crimes must not be overlooked but punished severely with massive multi-billion pound fines for the institutions and long prison sentences for the responsible executives.

Barack Does It For Me

with 3 comments

Yes, the expectation is ridiculous but Barack Obama continues to fulfil his promise at every stage.

His “First 100 days” is the point at which everyone will seek to pass judgment but I acknowledge him now.  This man remains a beacon of hope.  His personality and integrity shines through everything.  His direct, considered and incisive answers to questions reveal a leader who is exactly what the world needs.  I believe we deserve

Barack Obama In London

Barack Obama In London

him too.  Other current political issues show the seedy, self-serving, mediocre individuals we have had to put up with for far too long.

I was immensely impressed with his announcement on plans for the US car industry which was an object lesson in how to deliver bad news, how to tell all parties involved that it is time to get real.

He arrives in London and with supreme capability immediately addresses the world economic crisis and arms reduction, apparently making more progress on both in hours than other politicians have made in years.

Hail to the Chief!