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Ed Kemp and Bláthnaid Breslin win important EAT case on Civil Procedure Orders


The EAT (Eady P) has today handed down judgment in Williamson v Bishop of London and Others EA-2020-00367-DA.

A Civil Procedure Order (“CPO”) is imposed on vexatious litigants pursuant to s.42 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 (“SCA”). It is a requirement of a CPO for a vexatious litigant to obtain prior permission to institute civil proceedings from a High Court judge. Williamson confirms the draconian effects of a CPO. If proceedings are filed without prior permission having been obtained, the proceedings are a nullity.

The Claimant is the subject of a Civil Procedure Order (“CPO”), which provides that he shall not initiate civil proceedings without the leave of the High Court. The Claimant filed ET proceedings for age discrimination without first obtaining the required leave. He later obtained leave and sought to argue that the High Court Order had retrospective effect. The ET held that it had no jurisdiction on the basis that the ET claim, filed in breach of the requirement to obtain prior permission, was a nullity. Mr Williamson appealed to the EAT.

The EAT followed the High Court’s decision in AG v Edwards [2015] EWHC 1653. Eady P rejected the Claimant’s submissions that any of the established exceptions identified in Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd (No.2) [2016] IRLR 316 applied. Further, the decision in Edwards was correct having regard to the language and purpose of s.42 SCA. A CPO imposes a jurisdictional barrier. A CPO is intentionally draconian but this construction of s.42 SCA does not give rise to injustice that is disproportionate to the purpose of the restriction.

A link to the EAT judgment is here.

A link to earlier press coverage of the ET proceedings in which Ed Kemp was also involved is here.

James Wynne of Chambers appeared in the EAT on behalf of the Appellant.

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