Court procedures can be daunting to the uninitiated and that is
one good reason why you should never engage in civil litigation
without professional assistance. In a case on point, a businessman
had a costly judgment entered against him simply because of his
repeated failure to abide by the rules.
The businessman was sued by two claimants who said that he had
induced them to make various payments and caused them to incur
various costs in connection with proposed business ventures. The
claim against him was framed in deceit, conspiracy and breach of
contract but, despite the gravity of those allegations, he
represented himself in the proceedings without the benefit of legal
Judgment on the claim was entered against him due to his failure
to comply with a court order requiring him to file in court further
information regarding his defence. His defence was struck out and
he was debarred from further defending the claim. He subsequently
applied to have the judgment set aside on the basis that it had
been granted on false and inaccurate assertions by the
That application was, however, made after the expiry of a 14-day
me limit and did not adequately set out the grounds on which it was
made. It was unaccompanied by evidence, which was not filed until
some me later. The defective application was initially dismissed,
but the businessman was subsequently granted an oral hearing at
which it was considered afresh.
He asserted, amongst other things, that his delay in filing
evidence arose from his self-isolation, as a vulnerable person,
during the COVID-19 crisis. In ruling on the matter, however, a
judge noted that simply referring to the pandemic, without
explaining the effect it had on him, could not amount to an excuse
for his serious and significant breaches of the rules.
In dismissing his application, the judge noted the overriding
objective of dealing with cases justly and at proportionate cost.
There was also a powerful public interest in pares being dealt with
on an equal footing and finality being achieved. The ruling meant
that the judgment against him remained in force. He was also
ordered to pay the substantial legal costs of the
Daly & Anr v Ryan & Anr. 2021
In another case this year Sir Henry Royce Memorial
Foundation v Hardy, His Honour Judge Paul Matthews ruled that
the losing unrepresented defendant should pay 60% of the
claimant’s costs upfront, with the remainder going for detailed
assessment at a likely cost of over £100,000 to the
Defendant. There were “not two sets of rule” for the
represented and unrepresented.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.