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Judges should be able to prevent litigants in person inundating the court with emails

Lady Justice King calls for enhanced case management powers

Lady Justice King has called for judges to be empowered to restrict the means by which litigants in person communicate with the court. She said that 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. Failure to comply with such directions would mean that communications that they chose to send, notwithstanding those directions, would be neither responded to nor acted upon.

In Agarwala v Agarwala [2016] EWCA Civ 1252 King LJ was concerned with a business dispute which had been running for almost seven years. In a postscript to her judgment she said:

"It has taken up countless court and judge hours as both parties, incapable of compromise, have bombarded the court with endless applications, such that [counsel for the appellant] 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."

She added:

"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."

For the judgment, click here.

11/12/16