Author: Syedur Rahman
28 January 2021
2 min read
Syed Rahman of Rahman Ravelli outlines a case that emphasises the importance of knowing the rules – and their limitations - regarding summary judgement.
A recent case highlighted the fact that the safeguards contained within Civil Procedure Rule 24 (CPR 24) can be dispensed with if procedural defects are remedied or are capable of being remedied.
The High Court judgement in the case of Williams & Anor v Simm & Ors  EWHC 121 (Ch) is of significance given that the defendants were litigants in person. Procedural safeguards are designed to protect self-represented litigants from exploitation - and this case raises concerns around whether they are, in fact, fulfilling their purpose.
Both parties can apply for a summary judgment under CPR 24. CPR 24.2 states that the court may give summary judgment against a claimant or defendant on the whole of a claim or on a particular issue if it considers that:
Where summary judgement is granted, the proceedings are brought to a prompt end without the need for a full trial. The court must, therefore, be satisfied that there is no other compelling reason why the case should be disposed of at trial before granting such an order.
On 24 December 2020, the claimants filed an application seeking an order pursuant to CPR 3.4(2)(a).
CPR 3.4(2)(a) states that the court may strike out a statement of case if it appears to the court that the statement of case discloses no reasonable grounds for bringing or defending the claim. In response, the defendants filed on 11 January 2021 an application seeking an order that the claimants’ summary judgement application be struck out pursuant to CPR 3.4(2) and/or summary judgement be granted in the defendants’ favour, pursuant to CPR 24.2.
The defendants took a number of procedural objections in respect of the claimant’s summary judgement application, which were all found by HHJ Cawson QC to be correct.
HHJ Cawson QC noted that whilst there had been a breach of all the above no prejudice had been demonstrated, and the hearing was able to proceed without the defendants encountering any difficulty in being able to present their case.
While it should be incumbent on the judiciary to do what it can to help litigants in person navigate the civil justice system as effectively as they can, this case demonstrates both the failings in the system and the importance of securing independent legal advice to best protect your interests.
Syedur Rahman is known for his in-depth experience of serious fraud, white-collar crime and serious crime cases, as well as his expertise in worldwide asset tracing and recovery, civil recovery, cryptocurrency and high-stakes commercial disputes.