Why persistence doesn’t pay (also known as how NOT to behave as a litigant in person revisited)
Readers of the blog might remember Desmond Maurice Allan Fitzgerald, who featured in a previous posting which can be found here.
The original dispute was about the affairs of A, Mr Fitzgerald’s aunt. A’s niece, C, was appointed as A’s deputy in May 2013. Mr Fitzgerald had objected to this. In fact Mr Fitzgerald objected so much that he submitted nine applications to the Court of Protection between March and May 2013. In March 2016, the time of our previous posting, he had produced a further twelve applications.
Mr Fitzgerald took exception to the solicitors who represented the deputy, C and attempted to have them committed for “income tax fraud” and “criminal tax evasion”. He also accused the solicitor of “deliberate falsification” of the evidence to the Court. He also reported C’s previous solicitors to the Legal Ombudsman who did not find any problems whatsoever. During the 2013 hearing, Senior Judge Lush described Mr Fitzgerald’s allegations as “simply bluff and bluster”.
Mr Fitzgerald felt that C’s solicitor had intentionally sought to destroy his marriage and suggested the Judge, Sir James Munby, President of the Court of Protection, should resign.
Mr Fitzgerald was not allowed to bring any further applications in the proceedings until 21st March 2018. Following that date he appears to have lost no time and we now have a Judgment dated 13th July 2018. In that application Mr Fitzgerald is seeking the setting aside of the costs orders which were made against him as a result of the 2016 proceedings.
At the time the Judge notes that Mr Fitzgerald was going through an acrimonious divorce and financial remedy proceedings. Those proceedings have been covered in the press, including one article with the headline “Aristocrat who wrecked own £1m home to spite ex-wife facing gaol”.
In the 2018 proceedings Mr Fitzgerald accuses the Judge who made the Order in the matrimonial proceedings of abuse of position under the Fraud Act 2006. He also accuses another Judge, involved in the Court of Protection proceedings, of dishonesty.
In the Judgment, Sir James Munby publishes extracts of emails from Mr Fitzgerald to him and his replies. He points out that the correspondence between him and Mr Fitzgerald fills several ring binders.
Essentially, the Judge finds that Mr Fitzgerald’s application is without merit and indeed he has already been refused permission to appeal.
In addition, Mr Fitzgerald invites Sir James Munby to make findings that all of the evidence that C and her solicitors gave in the 2006 hearing is false based on information from some family papers. Sir James Munby says “it is quite evident from what I have set out that the evidence adduced by Mr Fitzgerald does not begin to support, let alone to establish, his case against XX”. (XX was C’s solicitor).
When the Judgment was ready to be published, Mr Fitzgerald contacted Sir James Munby raising other points and wanting the publication of the Judgment to be paused or stopped. Not surprisingly, the Judge found no merit in the further information and published the Judgment. Mr Fitzgerald is still subject to the costs orders to which he objected.
As an aside, the word ‘farrago’ appeared in the 2016 Judgment. For those of you who missed that, it is an untidy pile. Mr Fitzgerald’s information was described as a farrago of lies. To his credit, Mr Fitzgerald incorporates this word into his own arguments as well. Perhaps we have a new word on the block in the Court of Protection.
At its heart this is a very sad case. Mr Fitzgerald clearly does not accept the situation and has sought to blame a wide range of people for that. The Judgement and previous Judgments have dealt very fairly with his applications and Sir James Munby has not allowed himself to be drawn into the situation but has kept a very clear eye on the legal issues at stake.
Although this is an extreme case, it does illustrate the level of emotion and complication that can accompany Court of Protection cases.
For more information on Deputyships please click HERE