By Tom Winnifrith | Thursday 5 August 2021
Do you remember the poltroon Julian Pike of Farrer & Co who trolled me on behalf of Julie Meyer and harassed whistle-blower John Galt? He was also slammed in Malta for attempting, allegedly, to bully a magistrate with long emails on behalf of Meyer. It seems Ms Lingerie on Expenses MBE failed to pay her bills of £200,000 forcing Farrer & Co, lawyers to the Queen, to take Meyer to Court. The bombshell ruling is below.
Meyer lost the case on 28 July in the Queen’s Bench Division. Judge Simpkiss effectively accused her of lying in claiming to have covid so being unable to attend. She tried the same trick in her case against Henry Gewanter, to whom she still owes £20,000, and the Judge ruled against her there too and accused her of telling porkies. And in failing to disclose her assets and thus her ability to cough up she finds herself in contempt of court and potentially facing a jail sentence.
Oh dear. Oh dear. Now I wonder how Sir Vince Cable who is believed to have recommended Julie get her MBE feels about that call now? Surely it is time to strip the gong from this woman facing an FCA criminal investigation and who owes not only Farrer a vast sum but also poor Henry Gewanter not to mention the HMRC and the IRS?
No doubt Julie will say that this is all down to misogyny as it always is when it comes to journalists writing about her or the 32 firms of lawyers who she or her firms have failed to pay asking for cash or those beastly sexist pigs at the FCA. Whatever…
Farrrer & Co LLP vs Meyer
A judgment debtor who had failed to attend court to provide information about her assets was found to be in contempt of court under CPR r.71.8 where the court was satisfied that she had known that she was required to attend and that she had deliberately failed to do so. A suspended committal order was not made immediately, but if she failed to attend a further hearing for questioning the judgment creditor could apply for an immediate or suspended custodial sentence to be imposed.
The applicant solicitors’ firm applied for a suspended committal order under CPR r.71.8 in respect of the respondent former client.
The applicant had commenced proceedings in relation to unpaid fees and had obtained a default judgment for £200,000 and an order requiring the respondent to attend court on 5 March 2020 for questioning in respect of her assets. The respondent applied on 27 February 2020 to set aside the default judgment contending that she did had not known about the proceedings and that she resided in Switzerland. She also applied to adjourn the questioning on the basis that the set aside application should be heard first. The adjournment application was heard on 4 March.
The respondent was represented by counsel and submitted that she had had recurring symptoms of a heavy cold for a month which had worsened in the previous 48 hours. It was said that blood tests indicated an unknown viral infection and that she had been signed off from work for three days. The court held that she had not established that she was unfit to attend court the following day and it set out the consequences of non-attendance.
Nevertheless, she did not attend the hearing. She produced another witness statement in which she apologised and attached a medical certificate which stated that she had sinusitis and could not travel for a week. She offered some information about her assets. The applicant made the instant application on the basis that she had failed to attend. The respondent contended that the court could not be satisfied to the criminal standard that she did not have a good reason for not attending, and that in hindsight her symptoms could have been attributed to Covid-19.
It was common ground that an order for questioning could proceed even when a set aside application was in progress. The test to be applied to applications under CPR 71.8(1) was set out in Broomleigh Housing Association Ltd v Okonkwo  EWCA Civ 1113,  C.P. Rep. 4,  10 WLUK 264. The court had to be satisfied that the respondent had been served with the order to attend, that there was sufficient evidence to justify a finding to the criminal standard that her failure was intentional, and that in the circumstances it was appropriate to make a suspended committal order, Broomleigh followed, Billington v Davies  EWHC 1312 (Ch),  3 WLUK 626 considered.
It was clear that the judge who refused the adjournment application had had in mind the medical evidence and had not been satisfied that it had come near to being sufficient evidence of the respondent’s inability to attend. He considered that she was deliberately trying to avoid attending and his order and warnings had been clear. The respondent did not mention any medical issue until the day before the hearing. Witness statements filed on 27 February did not mention an inability to travel and she did not request a remote or telephone hearing. The instant court was satisfied that she had been aware that she was obliged to attend the hearing and that her nonattendance was deliberate.
The question was whether the failure was deliberate in the sense that she had disobeyed a court order without good reason. Covid-19 would have been difficult to diagnose in March 2020, but the respondent had since had ample opportunity to obtain medical evidence and had not done so. The court could only conclude that there had been no material change in circumstance since the 4 March judgment and found the respondent to be in contempt of court. However, it was not satisfied that it should make a suspended order for committal straight away. The respondent was required to attend a further hearing for questioning and if she failed to do so the applicant could make another application for a suspended or an immediate custodial sentence to be imposed.
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