Court held that claimant’s fresh claim was not abuse of process thus refusing defendants strike out application


Re: Windsor & Anor v Chief Constable of West Mercia Constabulary [2014] EWHC 2621 (QB)

The first claimant had been charged with murder and both the first and second claimants had been charged with perverting the course of justice, after the body of a man with whom the first claimant lived was found on a bonfire in the garden. Both claimants were acquitted. The first claimant subsequently issued County Court proceedings seeking “damages for assault, false imprisonment, misfeasance in public office and malicious prosecution arising from the first claimant’s detention on 15 Aug 2008 and subsequently”.

The Particulars of Claim were filed later and did not particularise any claim for malicious prosecution. The Particulars alleged that a second arrest was unlawful but they did not particularise a claim regarding the first arrest on 15 Aug 2008. The first claimant later indicated that she would be seeking to amend her claim. The amendments sought to particularise a claim for malicious prosecution and to give further particulars of the claim for false imprisonment by alleging that the first arrest was also unlawful. The judge refused those amendments, but granted permission for an amendment to include a claim under the Human Rights Act 1998.

The first claimant then brought a fresh claim for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. The defendant applied to strike out the claim, arguing that the fresh claim was an abuse of process because, inter alia, it could and indeed was initially at least brought in the County Court proceedings. Further, where the claim constituted the basis of an unsuccessful application for permission to amend it was a plain abuse of the process.

The court refused the strike out application. The court held that in the circumstances the fresh claim was not of itself abusive; the raising of a matter which could and should have been brought in earlier proceedings in later proceedings does not render those later proceedings necessarily abusive. Neither did the fresh claim constitute “an abusive collateral attack” on the decision of the earlier judge and the reliance on the quoted case law.

Hugh Tomlinson QC was involved in this case for the first claimant.