This article is part of our Housing Management & Property Litigation Brief: Issue 31.
In the last edition of our Housing Management and Property Litigation Brief published in April 2023, my colleagues Lee Russell and Pauline Lépissier gave some really valuable and helpful guidance on dealing with Court proceedings where your opponent is a litigant in person (“LiP”). That article can be found here.
As the article suggests, the legal costs of dealing with a matter where your opponent is a LiP can be significantly higher than those incurred when the opponent has legal representation. Costs can also be unpredictable due to the LiP’s conduct of the proceedings.
One issue which can cause costs to potentially spiral is the repeated issue of unnecessary and baseless interim applications during the proceedings. Applications can often be repetitive in nature, seek to divert attention away from the main facts in dispute or regularly be without any merit or prospect of success whatsoever.
Devonshires were recently successful in obtaining a Limited Civil Restraint Order against a defendant tenant who had issued numerous applications in this way. Civil Restraint Orders are relatively uncommon and are often an overlooked part of the court rules. Used in appropriate cases however, they can be extremely effective.
What is a Civil Restraint Order?
A Civil Restraint Order (“CRO”) is an Order made by the court which effectively prevents a party in proceedings from relitigating the same issue time and time again. The CRO will prevent the party subject to the Order from, for example, issuing any further applications in the proceedings without the permission of a Judge being obtained in the first instance.
This powerful tool can help to curtail the behaviour of a litigant that seeks to frustrate court proceedings or who is perhaps targeting a particular organisation with numerous claims being issued against them.