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Moon v Kent C.C. and another, Court of Appeal

3 December 2001
The issues

Automatic stay – Applications to lift – Substantial delays unsatisfactorily explained.

The facts

The Court below had refused to lift an automatic stay of the Claimants action for damages for malicious prosecution. There had been an application to strike out, which had been successful at first instance but reversed on appeal when directions had been ordered. The directions had not been applied with by either party and on the 25 April 2000 an automatic stay came into force. The Court issued a Notice for a Hearing of Case Management Conference, on the day after the stay had been imposed. At that Conference the High Court Judge had refused to remove the stay. The Claimant appealed.

The decision

1. The Court had a broad discretion to strike out.

2. The Appeal Court would intervene only if the Judge had misdirected himself on the Civil Procedure Rules or on the material put before the Court.

3. The burden on the Claimant to reverse the decision was heavy.

4. There was no misunderstanding as to the Judge’s construction of the Civil Procedure Rules or the material put before him.

5. The Judge had concluded that it was no longer possible to have a fair Trial. To proceed would involve investigation of matters occurring 14 years earlier. There had been substantial delays for which no satisfaction relation had been offered. The burden was on the Claimant’s solicitors making an application to the Judge and the fact that they had relied on misinformation by the Court Officials was no excuse.

6. It was not the case that it was always necessary for a party seeking to uphold a stay or to strike out to prove prejudice or to show that there could not be a fair trial – see Biguzzi in which Lord Woolf had emphasised there would be cases where it was in the interest of justice that a claim be struck out or a stay not to be removed.

Appeal Dismissed

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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