One of the worst things that could happen to a self-represented litigant (appearing without legal representation) is to be found to be a “vexatious litigant”.
What is a vexatious litigant?
A vexatious litigant is someone that frequently abuses court processes by instituting proceedings without reasonable grounds or for improper purposes. They may begin proceedings to intentionally harass, annoy, cause delay or create detriment. These individuals waste court resources and create unjustified hardship on the opposing party. The unfortunate opposing party then has to deal with the constant pressure and financial strain of having to respond to each claim.
Make an order staying all or part of any proceedings already instituted.
Make an order prohibiting a person from instituting further proceedings.
Make any other order appropriate.
A list of all individuals considered vexatious by the Supreme Court can be found on the Supreme Court of NSW website.
Sebie v Bresic Whitney Balmain Pty Ltd  NSWSC 816
The Plaintiff had sought the following:
Damages in the amount of $700,000 for “selling the property 700,000 market value (sic)”. Justice Rothman said “it is unclear what is intended by that”.
An order (spelt D-R-D-E-R which Justice Rothman assumed to be a typographical error) of damages of $1,400,000 for out-of-pocket expenses on the ostensible basis of breach of statutory duty, negligence, breach of fiduciary duties and unconscionable conduct.
The Defendants sought:
That the proceedings be dismissed.
A declaration pursuant to the Vexatious Proceedings Act 2008 about the Plaintiff preventing him from commencing certain proceedings.
The Plaintiff had been previously granted leave on three occasions to file an amended Statement of Claim which he did not do.
The Plaintiff along with Enterprise ICT and various other related litigants, brought and defended numerous other proceedings in the Supreme Court relating to the sale or possession of the Chiswick property. At the time of a judgment by the Court of Appeal in 2021, the proceedings numbered 35 different judgments of the Court.
Justice Rothman found that:
The proceedings were time barred.
The plaintiff has refused to file written submissions in accordance with the direction of the Court.
The Plaintiff failed to attend at the motion to dismiss the proceedings.
Justice Rothman dismissed the proceedings and made orders pursuant to s8(7) of the Vexatious Proceedings Act 2008 that the Plaintiff be prohibited from instituting proceedings in New South Wales against the Defendants related to or in any way connected to the property in Chiswick which was previously owned by the Plaintiff.
Tips to not become a vexatious litigant
Assess the merits of your case. You should determine that you have a reasonable chance to win your case. The experienced lawyers at Longton Legal can provide you with a realistic understanding of the legal issues involved, the likelihood of success and potential outcomes of your case. Pursuing a case without merit wastes the Court’s resources and limits Court access for other litigants.
Explore other alternatives. There are alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration and negotiation. These methods can offer a cheaper, easier and quicker method than litigation and should be the first resort.
Comply with Court orders and rules. It is important to comply with the procedural rules of the Court so you avoid being held in contempt and so your case progresses appropriately.
If you need help - contact us today
There are very real consequences for those found to be a vexatious litigant including being prohibited from pursuing a claim without leave, despite how strong or justified you think your claim may be.
If you are considering commencing proceedings and are unsure where to begin or are having any difficulties with court proceedings please contact me for assistance. At Longton Legal our experienced solicitors can assist you with court proceedings of all kinds.
*Disclaimer: This is intended as general information only and not to be construed as legal advice. The above information is subject to changes over time. You should always seek professional advice before taking any course of action.*
Partner | Accredited Commercial Litigation Specialist NSW
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