Argh, I’m Being Sued Again!

The question I actually received from an Australian lady was this –

How do you stop a person on government benefits who can lodge as many appeals against you as they like without financial cost to them, from calling you back to court?

It is horribly frustrating to be dragged in to court repeatedly when you have nothing to do with the actual action and its already been resolved. It's not just frustrating for you either, its also frustrating for the courts because it delays worthy cases and consumes resources. I wrote some commentary on the Queensland (Australia) court rules on this a couple of years ago and have actually made applications (when I was a litigation lawyer) like this against a couple of people on behalf of clients.

Most court and tribunal systems have what is called “vexatious litigant” rules. You can apply to the court to have a person declared a vexatious litigant in circumstances where they have made numerous claims around the same circumstances. One person I had to obtain an order against had started proceedings in two courts and two different tribunals (four claims all told) with claims ranging from breach of contract to discrimination, unfair dismissal from employment and breach of human rights.

To make an application to have someone declared a vexatious litigant you need to provide the Court with details of their past claims and action and anything else they have done in other courts against you, and the cost to you both in terms of time and money.

"Vexatious litigants are frustrating! For you and the courts."

If your application is successful, the person you get the order against will need to apply to the Court to get the Court’s permission before they can commence any further actions against you.

The only limitation is that such an order applies only in the Court that you obtain it, so if your vexatious litigant keeps changing courts you will need to make more than one application. Once you do have a successful application, you can use that as part of your evidence to support applications in other courts.

Most courts will have processes whereby you can apply to have yourself removed from a proceeding if you can demonstrate that it really has nothing to do with you.

In my experience, obtaining one of these orders in one court has been sufficient to stop the litigant from continuing their claims in all courts. What is your experience?

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