Often times in Vanuatu persons may file the same case before the court on a number of occasions because they were not happy with the judgment of the court in the previous case or some persons may simply file numerous cases or file useless documents for the sole purpose of delaying the matter or frustrating the other side. Such persons can be considered to be vexatious litigants.
What is a vexatious litigant?
A vexatious litigant is defined as a person who persistently files cases with the court but does not have sufficient grounds for doing so. In other words, they are filing frequent cases without any evidence or basis for doing so.
What is vexatious litigation?
A vexatious litigant can be said to be filing vexatious litigation. That is, a case brought solely to harass or subdue the other party. It can take the form of the frivolous filing of a case to the filing of numerous documents in the case which have no legal basis.
What are vexatious proceedings?
Some of these are considered to be:
- A process filed with the court which is considered to be an abuse of the process of the court.
- A court proceeding started for the purpose of annoying, harassing of the other person, cause delay and loss or done for some other wrongful purpose.
- Proceedings started and continued without reasonable grounds.
Who can apply for an order?
The court can make the order without anyone making an application, but other persons are allowed to apply for such an order:
- The Attorney-General or Solicitor General;
- A person who is of the belief that a vexatious case has been brought against them;
- With the permission of the court any third person who may have an interest in the case.
How do you get a person deemed a vexatious litigant?
If you are of the view that someone with whom you are in a case keeps filing frivolous cases or filing applications upon applications before the court simply to harass or intimidate you then you are free to make an application to the court. The Civil Procedure Rule dealing with this type of application can be found at 18.12 of those Rules and states “if the court is satisfied that a person persistently and without reasonable cause has started vexatious proceedings or proceedings that disclose no reasonable cause of action, the court may declare the person to be a vexatious litigant.”
To have a person declared a vexatious litigant you would need to make an application to the court with a sworn statement attached along with any relevant documents. A copy of your application must be served on the person against whom the application is made. In your application you must be able to prove that this person has filed a proceeding in the court with the intention of annoying or embarrassing you, or that they have been brought for a different reason other than the reason given to the court, or that the case very obviously has no merit and that person couldn’t possibly win.
How do you deal with a vexatious litigant?
If someone has been declared a vexatious litigant it means that they are not allowed to file any proceedings in the court for the period that the court has stated but that period cannot be more than 2 years. If there is a case or other application they wish to file they must apply to the court for permission to do so. If that person files a case before the period banning them from filing has passed and they have not got the court’s permission to do so you may file an application before the court for contempt of court (see Daily Post or our website for earlier article on the topic of contempt).
How do you get a matter heard by the court if you are deemed a vexatious litigant?
If you are the one who has been declared a vexatious litigant and you have what you consider an important matter to file with the court you must file an application with an affidavit to seek the court’s permission for you to file any case. In your application you will:
- have to explain to the court why you want to file this case or application,
- what the content of this case or application will contain,
- what disadvantage or prejudice you will suffer if you are not allowed to file this proceeding.
- You should also tell the court all other occasions when you have applied to the court for leave if there are any,
- Inform the court of all proceedings you started in the court prior to the vexatious order being made
There is no need for you to serve this application on anyone unless and until the court gives you permission to do so. If there is a person or persons that the court believes needs to be heard then the court will order you to do so and those persons will be given an opportunity to reply to and be heard on your application on the day appointed by the court for the hearing. At the hearing the court may either grant or dismiss your application.
What happens if a new proceeding is filed contrary to the court’s order denying leave
If this happens the court may either dismiss the entire matter or may stay the matter, that is, stop it from going ahead for a while. That stay will remain in place until the court dismisses the case, usually after about a month.
DISCLAIMER – This is a legal column to provide basic information on the law and court procedure. It is not to be used as a substitute for legal advice but to be used only as a starting point in understanding what you might need and what you might need to do.
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