A litigant in person’s bid to sue HSBC and their solicitors Shoosmiths on behalf of two dogs has led the High Court to describe her as “one of those very rare litigants” against whom a two-year general civil restraint order had to be made.
Mr Justice Snowden said he could not see “how a dog could give instructions”.
The dispute – over the bank’s possession of Sabrina Shafika Moosun’s house – dates back to 2009. Snowden J said that since then she had repeatedly made applications and issued proceedings.
“Many of her claims and applications do not make clear the basis of her complaints and make unparticularised allegations, including allegations of fraud and conspiracy, against a wide range of people,” he said in his latest ruling, noting that a “considerable number” of them have been held to be “totally without merit”.
The decision saw him strike out her two most recent claims. One of them purported to be brought against HSBC and Shoosmiths by Mrs Moosun, her two infant children, and two dogs – Goldie, aged 18 months, and Diamond, aged two years.
The judge struck out the claim by the children because no litigation friend had been appointed on their behalf and no order had been made permitting them to bring proceedings.
“Miss Wilmot-Smith [counsel for HSBC] also makes the obvious point that dogs are not capable of bringing legal proceedings. Among other things, CPR part 2.3(1) defines ‘claimant’ as a person who makes a claim, and a dog is not a person.
“I also cannot see how a dog could give instructions for a claim to be brought on its behalf or be liable for any orders made against it. There are a whole host of other reasons why proceedings by dogs must be void, and accordingly I am satisfied that in so far as the claim purports to be made on behalf of the two dogs, it should also be struck out.”
He went on to strike out both claims in their entirety, saying they were “without merit”.
HSBC sought a civil restraint order, which the judge thought was appropriate. He then had to decide which type to grant.
An extended civil restraint order prohibits the subject from issuing claims or making applications in specified courts concerning any matter touching upon the proceedings in which the order is made without first obtaining permission. A general civil restraint order is wider – meaning the subject would have to seek permission before bringing any proceedings – and is made where an extended order would not be sufficient or appropriate.
“The long and tortured history of the litigation which Mrs Moosun has instituted to challenge the possession proceedings taken by the bank by every means legitimately and illegitimately available to her, indicates very forcibly that Mrs Moosun is a litigant who is simply not prepared to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Snowden J said.
He noted that some of her claims had been issued in breach of a previous limited civil restraint order made against her in the county court.
“In these circumstances it seems to me that Mrs Moosun is one of those very rare litigants for whom an extended civil restraint order would not be sufficient or appropriate, and that it is necessary to make a general civil restraint order against her.
“I think it would be impossible to construct an extended civil restraint order in a form which would be clearly capable of catching whatever new proceedings that Mrs Moosun may dream up.
“The very fact that she is prepared to make unparticularised and wide-ranging allegations of a conspiracy against her by the judges who have been involved in dealing with her and the professionals involved in the sale of her house indicates to me that, unless a restraint is made in general form, it is likely that she will try to find ways of evading the restraint.”