Hi everyone, I am desperate for some advice and help so please bear with me on what is an extremely difficult and complex case.
There are several elements to my case, but I will try to summarize as best as I can.
I need advice on pursuing a claim for harassment against a former landlord and an appeal against civil court proceedings concluded a few weeks ago.
I took a civil claim against my former landlord because when I fled his property quickly (to a refuge) as a result of his threatening behaviour which culminated in a threat of sexual violence I left belongings behind.
I returned to collect them 28 days after fleeing to find that he had destroyed all of my possessions.
I spent 3 months at the refuge which had a massive impact on my health and I have subsequently taken civil court proceedings.
The Defendant used to refer to me as "slut" or "bitch" even though I asked him several times not to. I have evidence of this from text messages from him which state "I own you slut" etc in them. Just for clarification, he propositioned me a few times and took offense when I rejected him. There was never any sort of intimacy between us. I made it clear that I was not interested.
What transpired after I left the property was that the Defendant had been taking covert video recordings of me around the home and posting these online with "fat slut" or "bitch broke my washing machine" alongside. I feel SO violated.
Unfortunately as a litigant in person the court proceedings were extremely difficult and when I filled in the original Particulars of claim form (N1) I merely listed the belongings that were destroyed or retained.
I made reference to the harassment element of my claim, but didn't specifically mention it (although I was specific in my witness statement and expressly stated that I was making the claim for damages for harassment and damage to belongings under the torts interference with goods act) So therefore when we got to the final hearing, the judge refused to hear the harassment element of my claim.
Additionally the Defendant failed to comply with deadlines, Mediation or anything throughout the entire court proceedings and was allowed to make a mockery of me and of the system.
During the final hearing, I tried to get his Witness Statement struck out as it was NOT verified by a statement of truth, was not compliant and was full of glaring inconsistencies, but the judge refused.
I was also seeking costs due to the unreasonable behaviour of the Defendant, but because the claim was on the small claims track the judge even refused that. I was very annoyed and I feel so badly let down.
So that brings me to the reason why I am here. The purpose of taking these proceedings is that I wanted the Defendant to face some consequences of his abhorrent behaviour and although I won (£520.00 of my original claim of £1,800 not including £524.00 costs) I don't feel that he has suffered any consequence. He was arrogant and cocky in court as usual and needs to be brought down a peg or 2 to realise that his behaviour is not acceptable.
I am wondering what the next steps might be; do I issue a separate harassment claim (and how do I quantify the harassment element in money terms) or appeal against the decision made in the court last week and how do I do this with no legal representation?
Just to clarify I am also considering making a legal aid exceptional case funding application because I don't feel able to represent myself in such a difficult and emotive case.
Any help, advice or tips would be SO gratefully received and appreciated.
By way of an update. I have decided to appeal the order of the District Judge, but I am out of time (21 days) so panicking a little.
I am going to apply for an extension to the time limit, but this is a whole new scenario for me.
I have filed in the Notice to appeal N161 document and I have set out the following info to attach to it.
I am not sure if this is right. Any help would be SO appreciated.
I have set out the document in the proper format with the names, case number and the court at the top of the page.
For clarification purposes. I intend to do some more research and do the Skeleton Argument next?
I XXXXX XXXXX of XXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX am the Appellant in these proceedings.
I make this statement in support of my appeal against the orders made by Deputy District Judge XXXXXXX on the XXXX XXXXX 2019. I make this statement from facts and information to my own knowledge which I believe to be true.
1. Deputy District Judge XXXXXX failed to apply the CPR guidelines correctly and made momentous errors in his deliberation. He failed to demonstrate any understanding of the sensitive issues involved or the trauma that the Appellant had to endure because of the actions of the Respondent. His judgment was procedurally inaccurate, failed to apply the CPR rules effectively, or adhere to them at all and lacked logic.
2. The Respondent failed to verify his witness statement with a statement of truth. It was non-compliant and inconsistent throughout. It contained defamatory and vexatious statements which the Respondent failed to substantiate. Pursuant to CPR 32.8 A witness statement must comply with the requirements set out in Practice Direction 32. Part 22.1(c) of the CPR Requires a witness statement to be verified by a statement of truth.
The Respondents failure to verify his witness statement, his non-compliance and deceitful, defamatory statements were highlighted in the Appellants witness statement. They were also brought to the attention of Deputy District Judge XXXXX during the final hearing on the 30th January 2019. CPR part 22.1(4)(b) states that if an applicant wishes to rely on matters set out in his application notice as evidence, the application notice/witness statement must be verified by a statement of truth.
3. In a recent High Court dispute involving Capita Pension Trustees and another v Sedgwick Financial Services and others, Master Shuman states: -
unless it is a matter of extreme urgency, I would expect such applications to be made by application notice and supported by evidence. When I say evidence, I am referring to a witness statement signed with a statement of truth, not a raft of correspondence sent in piecemeal fashion to the court
4. The actions, or lack thereof, by the Respondent have been exactly as described by Master Shuman above. None of the information submitted by the Respondent was supported by any credible evidence whatsoever. The Appellant outlined the repeated failures of the Respondent to comply with the CPR guidelines, and his uncooperative behaviour throughout the process. A request for an unless order was made to the court for the Respondent to disclose information to demonstrate that he was dishonest, but this was refused by the court? However, despite the Respondents continual contempt for the Court and for the Appellant, he was allowed to make a mockery of both and in doing so, the overriding objective was not met.
In concurrence with the statement by Master Shuman above, none of the material that the Respondent presented to the court in a piecemeal fashion was supported by evidence. Why was this evidence allowed? This is a reprehensible failure of procedure. The Appellant adhered to the CPR guidelines at every stage, despite being a litigant in person. Why was the Respondent not held to the same rules?
5. A parallel can be drawn from the case law example involving Su Ling v Goldman Sach International (2015) EWHC 759 (comm) which specified that The absence of a proper explanation for delay, will often, without more, lead to the application to amend being refused. In compliance with this analogy and in acquiescence with the criticisms levied at Dentons by Master Shuman [above] why were repeated applications by the Respondent allowed? Especially, as highlighted by the Appellant repeatedly, he had little prospect of successfully defending the claim [which is why he used dishonest means and committed perjury to yield greater prospects of success]
The documents that the Respondent produced were wholly unpersuasive and lacked credibility. There is nothing to indicate that the Respondent had Reasonable prospects of success or that by allowing him further time or applications would make any difference whatsoever to the outcome. So why were these errors and the unjust judgement permitted. The Respondent has a duty to assist the court to meet the overriding objective which was not only not met, it was completely contravened.
6. Part (b) of CPR guideline 21.4 specifies in the case of a witness statement, the maker believes that the facts stated in the document are true. Therefore, how has Deputy District Judge Fraser come to the [incorrect] conclusion that the information contained within the Respondents witness statement were honest? This fails to meet the 'Overriding Objective' and denies the Appellants right to a 'fair and equal' trial. The witness statement should have been struck-out in accordance with CPR guideline 22.3.
7. Did the Respondent fail to verify the witness statement because he was mindful that the statements contained within were false and in doing so, he would be committing contempt/perjury?
This appears to be a logical inference to draw, the CPR guidelines are clear on the submission of witness statements and the consequences of failing to comply or verify. What is the purpose of the guidelines if they are not adhered to?
Again the Appellant ponders how Deputy District Judge XXXXXXXX could make the assumption that any of the statements in an unverified document with a lack of evidence to support any of the claims the Respondent was making could be honest? The reality is that the witness statement was a non-compliant document crammed full of contemptable, dishonest claims, including an outrageous one to attempt to justify the Respondents abhorrent behaviour and his threat of sexual assault of the Appellant.
8. As a litigant in person, the process is difficult and stressful. However, the Appellant was compliant throughout the entire process. All evidence was compiled and presented to the court in the proper format and all deadlines were adhered to. The Respondents behaviour has been unreasonable at every stage. He consistently and deliberately chose not to reply to correspondence. The particulars of claim form [N1] was issued on the 2st March 2018, the first contact that the Respondent made with the court was 11th June 2018. He refused mediation, failed to respond to the Claimants without prejudice reasonable offer to settle the claim and he made the entire process considerably as difficult as he possibly could. He also committed perjury which was allowed by the court. This is a despicable failure of the justice system.
9. Despite the unreasonable behaviour of the Respondent, Deputy District Judge XXXXX refused to allow costs presented to him by the Appellants solicitor. The costs summary was £XXXX which included the cost of the solicitor to represent the Appellant at the hearing, legal expenses for advice sought from a solicitor and travel expenses to/from the court. District Judge XXXXX stated that costs are not granted on the small claims track. However, pursuant to CPR 27.14(2) The court may not order a party to pay a sum to another party in respect of the other partys costs, fees and expenses, including those relating to an appeal, except
(d) expenses which a party or witness has reasonably incurred in travelling to and from a hearing or in staying away from home for the purposes of attending a hearing
(g) Such further costs as the court may assess by the summary procedure and order to be paid by a party who has behaved unreasonably
And part (3) of the guidelines set out under part 27.14 states that; A partys rejection of an offer in settlement will not of itself constitute unreasonable behaviour, under paragraph (2)(g) but the court may take it into consideration when applying the unreasonableness test.
10. It is fundamental to consider that a duty is imposed on involuntary Bailees in that they should do what is right and reasonable in all the circumstances [Elvin & Powell Ltd v Plummer Roddis Ltd, 1933]
The Respondent did not behave in a manner which is right and reasonable at any stage, either prior to the Appellant being forced to flee the property, thereafter, or throughout the court process.
11. The Appellant requests that the Judgement of £70.00 obtained against her for the Respondent is removed/set-aside. This is indicative of the lack of application of the CPR guidelines by Deputy District Judge XXXXXX and lack of recognition of what the Appellant had endured as a result of the Respondents unreasonable behaviour and actions. This Judgement was a result of the Respondents spurious counter-claim which was solely for the purpose of mitigating his loses against the claim and should have been struck out along with all of the other non-verified and non-compliant documentation.
The Respondent stated that this was the cost of having two locks changed at the property [front and rear] This was unnecessary and the Appellant should not be penalised for it. The Appellant did not have the key to the rear of the property, the Respondent was aware of this. When the Appellant fled the property, she did so quickly and went to a womens refuge which was some 35+ miles away. The Respondent was aware that the Appellant did not have access to a vehicle. The Appellant telephoned the Police and fled from the property in fear following despicable, abusive threats from the Respondent. She was frightened and feared for her safety as any reasonable person threatened with sexual assault would be. Why would she return and place herself in immense danger? Medical evidence submitted with this Appellants notice also demonstrates that the Appellant visited her GP as she was suffering very severe, acute back pain causing mobility issues. The Respondent was aware of this as the Appellant had informed him via message that she was unable to collect her belongings at that time due to a reoccurrence of her ongoing back injury.
12. When the Appellants solicitor requested that costs be paid as a result of the unreasonable behaviour of the Respondent, Deputy District Judge XXXXX stated that The Claimant [Appellant] could have represented herself. Whilst this may be partially correct. It demonstrates little understanding or recognition of how demanding and challenging the case was and how anxious the Appellant was in light of the behaviour of the Respondent.
Additionally, the Appellant suffered a bereavement a just a few weeks prior to the hearing which was extremely distressing. The Appellants maternal Grandmother [brought-up the Appellant in the absence of her own mother] passed away. This was colossally distressing and caused the Appellant to lose focus. The [incorrect] assumption by Deputy District Judge Fraser that the Claimant could have represented herself shows no recognition of the fears and issues the Appellant was tackling or that she was alongside a Defendant that had been offensive, abusive, threatened her with sexual assault and caused her to flee her home.
13. The Appellant is aware of the deadline for submitting an appeal is 21 days from the date of the judgement. The Appellant respectfully requests that an extension to this time is allowed due to extenuating circumstances? The court process and final hearing were tremendously difficult and caused significant anxiety for the Appellant. The Appellant had to focus on dealing with the grief of losing a dearly, much loved family member and the funeral which was on the XXXXX February 2019 [Evidence attached] and afterwards to attempt to recover from the adversity that she faced before re-focusing on a very arduous and emotive appeal and harassment claim.
I hope that the court will recognise that this has been a very anxious period for the Appellant, allow the extension and this genuine appeal to move forward to enable the Appellant to challenge these incorrect and unjust judgements and decisions.
Statement of Truth
I believe that the facts stated in this grounds of appeal statement are true.
Dated this day: 25th February 2019
To the court and
to the Respondent