Litigant in Person’s Attempt to Summon Solicitor Fails.

A litigant in person, Brian Nesbitt, has been told by the High Court that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of legal advisers he had sought to accuse of dishonesty and fraud in a 19-year-old grievance. Nesbitt had sought summonses relating to his allegations against a national firm solicitor and a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) employee over an employment claim settled in 2003.

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History of the Professional Negligence Claim

Eleven years ago, District Judge Walton at Newcastle upon Tyne County Court dismissed Nesbitt’s claim for professional negligence. However, in May of last year, Nesbitt wrote to the magistrates’ court in Gateshead indicating he wanted to reopen the matter, prompting HM Courts & Tribunals Services to twice refuse to issue criminal summons. Following an application for judicial review of the decisions, Mr Justice Julian Knowles ruled in Nesbitt, R (On the Application Of) v Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria Legal Team, that the district judge’s judgment was ‘unchallengeable’ and he was ‘obviously entitled’ to conclude that the CAB adviser and solicitor were honest.

Details of the Dispute

The dispute and subsequent litigation originated when Nesbitt was suspended by his employer Dunlop after being unable to work following a head injury sustained during an assault. Nesbitt appointed the CAB in Gateshead to act on his claim, and his allotted adviser was Wilfred Holt. Dunlop, represented by Wragge & Co solicitor Juliet Abraham, offered to settle for £9,000.

What did the High Court decide?

The High Court heard that, despite rejecting the offer, Nesbitt banked and spent a cheque for £9,000. Nesbitt later alleged that his claim against Dunlop had been settled without his consent and that the forms confirming the settlement were fraudulent. This allegation went to the Court of Appeal but was ultimately unsuccessful. The judge found the evidence ‘overwhelmingly’ suggested that Nesbitt had agreed to a compromise and rejected any case that he was misled.

In the latest hearing, the High Court judge said he allowed Nesbitt to speak for as long as he wished and on any point he wished. However, there was no evidence to question the findings that Holt and Abraham were honest, which was fatal to any application for summons. The judge further added that very cogent evidence would be required even at the stage of applying for summons and that there was no reason that is obvious to him why Holt or Abraham should have behaved in a dishonest fashion on what probably was, for them, a low value and routine matter, and from which they did not personally stand to benefit.

Download the Judgement here

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