High Court rejects “increasingly bizarre” claims against barrister arbitrator

Gold: Arbitrator did not become bailee

The High Court has rejected as “totally without merit” a set of claims against a barrister arbitrator, including a claim in bailment for gold bullion.

Dismissing the claims, Mr Justice Males said the allegations made by Sayed Sangamneheri, currently the subject of a civil restraint order, had become “increasingly bizarre”.

Males J said he had already ruled at an earlier stage that “the idea that an arbitrator became a bailee of gold bullion which was the subject of a dispute between the parties was absurd”.

He said the claimant, who represented himself, argued that the rules of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, which “give the arbitrator a power to make provisional orders, including provisional orders over the disposition of property, are sufficient to give an arbitrator control of the goods”.

Males J said this was “obviously not so”.

He went on: “Those rules simply provide that an arbitrator has power to make provisional orders as contemplated by section 39 of the Arbitration Act 1996 and without which such express agreement there would be no such power.

“They do not mean that the arbitrator has control of any property which is the subject of the dispute. The arbitrator simply has a power to make orders over property the subject of a dispute which is and remains within the control of a party to the arbitration.”

The High Court heard in Sangamneheri v Bellamy [2018] EWHC 2569 (Comm) that Mrs Justice Moulder made an extended civil restraint order against Mr Sangamneheri in January this year, but there was no time to consider his outstanding applications.

Males J said that the fact the litigant in person’s original claim against barrister Jonathan Bellamy was struck out by Master Kay QC last summer had not deterred him from making repeated applications.

“It is difficult to keep count of the applications which the claimant has made in the course of these proceedings, but they are numerous and, so far as I can see, each one of them has been certified as being totally without merit.”

Males J said Mr Sangamneheri’s claim originated in “an exchange agreement to which the claimant was a party by which he agreed to transfer land in India to the counterparty in exchange for payment in instalments in the form of gold bullion”.

He continued: “There was a dispute arising out of the non-performance of that contract and pursuant to the arbitration clause in the contract, that dispute was referred to arbitration.”

“The arbitration clause provided that the seat of the arbitration would be Dubai. It provided also that it would be conducted in accordance with the Rules of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. The arbitrator appointed by the Chartered Institute president was the defendant, Mr Jonathan Bellamy.”

Males J said Mr Sangamneheri’s “theory of the case” was that this caused Mr Bellamy and the Institute to become bailees of the gold bullion.

After Males J rejected this claim in common law and certified it as “totally without merit” at an earlier stage, the litigant in person argued that he had an alternative claim under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.

However, Males J said this claim had already been struck out. “It is too late to put the case in new ways, but in any event a claim under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 has always been part of the claim and has therefore been struck out, together with the rest of it, and in my judgment such a claim would be manifestly hopeless.

“The claimant goes on to accuse the arbitrator and the Chartered Institute and their solicitors of fraudulent and dishonest statements. The allegations which he makes as time goes by become, I have to say, increasingly bizarre.”

Males J concluded that there was “absolutely no basis” on which the claimant’s outstanding applications could succeed.

“The applications are in each case totally without merit and they are dismissed.”

He added that it seemed that the flow of applications following the extended civil restraint order “has not dried up” and they would have to be considered by the judge nominated to hear them, Master McCloud.

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