Ian Paton and Amanda Clutterbuck, who brought a claim against the “fake Saudi Princess”, have won their appeal in a related case, Clutterbuck v William Cleghorn  EWCA Civ 137, against the estate of a wealthy Scottish care home owner and fellow property developer on the basis of arguments submitted to the Court of Appeal by Cerulean Chambers member, Stuart Cakebread.
Mr Paton and Ms Clutterbuck, who launched a private prosecution against the woman who claimed to be a Saudi Princess in an action in 2013, but who they claim is actually from Ethiopia, are pursuing the estate of one of the Princess’s alleged one time associates, Elliott Nichol, in a multi-million pound claim arising from dealings they had with him at about the same time as their involvement with the “princess”. The estate attempted to strike out their claim in total on the basis that they should have joined it to the claim against the “princess”. The Court of Appeal has ruled unanimously, accepting Stuart Cakebread’s written submissions, however, that they are fully entitled to pursue a claim for several million pounds against the estate.
Lawyers will recognise the case as an important one in determining when a claimant is entitled to pursue a defendant in a separate action even where there is some overlap with another action. The issue of abuse by repeating litigation has been considered in a string of recent cases after the important decision in Aldi Stores Ltd v WSP Group Plc  1 W.L.R. 748.There have been further decisions which have helped define when a later action will be regarded as an abuse of process and therefore struck out.
Clutterbuck v William Cleghorn confirms that it is not sufficient simply to establish some overlap and/or failure to seek a direction from the court. In itself, the repetition or overlap must be abusive in substance. This preserves and reflects the principle that a court should be slow to stop a meritorious claim proceeding even if the niceties of procedural rules established in earlier decisions have not been followed.
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