SUMMARY OF MY CASE AGAINST BETFAIR AND HOW I HAVE BEEN CHEATED BY THE JUDICIARY
In my case against Betfair plc I brought a claim where I alleged breach of duty. My case was (and indeed remains) cast iron where none of the relevant facts are or ever were in dispute. It was simply that the judge in the Court of first instance, Guildford County Court, failed to appreciate the contract in point. That did not bother me. I simply accepted that litigation was uncertain and decided to march on to the Court of Appeal (CoA).
It was here that I was astounded in that I was denied the right to appeal. LJ Sedley’s manner was peremptory at one level and abysmally frivolous at another. My barrister was so certain that LJ Sedley was wrong that he advised my appealing again to the CoA under the relevant provisions. This time I got LJ Aikens who came to the same decision (that I was unable to appeal). Curiously, his reasoning was different. I drew the conclusion that the sole purpose of these “judgements” at the CoA was to reinforce the decision of the Court of first instance, it presumably being argued that encouraging a culture of appealing could not be afforded by society.
This is all very well but it rather aborts the idea of a Court of Appeal. And, in my case, given that the appeal swung entirely upon one word and its central pivotal role in a contract, it is most curious that no effort was made by either of LJ Sedley or LJ Aikens to dismiss its centrality. After all, it had been high-lighted by my barrister, a specialist in this area of contract and who had prepared my application to appeal, as pivotal and central. It would have taken at most one minute to establish from the papers and one minute to dismiss over the telephone, were its dismissal appropriate.
The dispute arose in July 2006. By March 2007 I was getting nowhere in trying to discuss this with the defendant. So, my deadline having passed, I issued a writ. Slightly unusually, as citizens go, I was in the fortunate position of in effect unlimited cash to pay legal fees. So there was never any question of my being bludgeoned into submission by the defendant. I instructed a small firm of solicitors in Croydon (an explanation as to the basis of selection is available on request) whose relevant and allocated partner eventually advised me to desist from my action and to accept a stand off since there had to be a chance that this matter would end in the Court of Appeal. He declared that his advice was based on “you know how judges are”. Well, I did not know how judges are or were (and, as it happens, I still do not). So I persisted. For a start I asked him to write out the reasoning for his advice that there would in practice be a significant risk of uncertainty. This reasoning was never received.
Here things started to go downhill. The writ had originally been based upon the West London Civil County Court (Talgarth Road). But it got moved to Wandsworth (Upper Richmond Road) and was set for 22nd August 2008. This hearing was cancelled by the judge with less than twenty-four hours to go. I was never told why.
So I found myself traipsing down to Epsom for a hearing on 23rd October 2008. This hearing was cancelled at ten minutes’ notice. The reasons given were the intervention of a family matter and the then disclosed fact that the judge felt that this was a contract matter where her level of expertise in relation to contract law would be insufficient. By then I had incurred fees yet again for, essentially, the same work. I decided that this was containable but surprising. (God knows what an impecunious litigant would have made of this state of affairs.) I was then advised that the judge in question would be found at Guildford where, apparently, no less than three contract law specialists sit. At Epsom, a family matter may take precedent and it may have intervened and there may have been only one judge. But given that my matter was a contract law dispute I think it could have been weeks before classified as too difficult to understand. And so the matter trundled into 2009.
I pressed for a date. In or about April I received a letter from Guildford ordering a hearing between set dates from May into June 2009. With the expiry of the June date, I pressed my solicitor for a date. With less than a week to go, the solicitor’s clerk advised me that the hearing was set for 1st/2nd July 2009 and he asked me for a fresh sum of money to do in effect exactly what had I had paid for about two months previously. I protested and asked for the solicitor’s telephone number since he was on holiday. His number was denied to me. The clerk then telephoned me half an hour later to advise that the agreed hearing had been cancelled. By then I began to smell a rat – that I might be subject to some sort of scam whereby hearings were dangled in front of claimants and fees had to be paid for in advance and where the hearings were cancelled so to allow a fresh set of danglings to emerge. So I sacked the solicitor since, on the balance of the probabilities, I no longer trusted him. At no point did he contact me other than to claim his firm’s reasonableness of conduct. In any event, and as I have earlier mentioned, he had failed to provide, despite his undertaking that he would so provide, a proper argument as to the weakness in my case. I stress this since it is my view that if an argument is sound it can be set down on paper. At all times I had the money to pay for this service and I had paid.
I asked a member of my family, a serving judge, what he suggested I do. He suggested that it would be worth my presenting my case as a litigant in person since, as he pointed out, I knew my case as well as anybody in the country. He was right there. Further, he said, the judge would accept that a litigant in person would not be well versed in court procedure and would allow for my ignorance in that respect. Thus, albeit reluctantly, I became a litigant in person.
I now know that I should have got my barrister to present my case since I have no doubt he would have stressed the pivotal word to which I have earlier alluded. I did not know that I could have used his services – I presumed that, having sacked my solicitor, I had lost access to my barrister.
At the hearing that was finally set for 13th August 2009 at Guildford, I failed. The judgement runs to seventeen pages and is well written. However, it overlooks the central point that I made about the defendant’s failure to attend to the duty that it had undertaken. The judgement is therefore fatally flawed. Incidentally, if – as LJ Sedley later averred – the matter was so palpably incapable of presenting me with a win, it is strange that the judgement ran to seventeen pages. I therefore doubt the quality of LJ Sedley’s judgement.
Astonishingly, the Guildford judgement was sent to me by ordinary post. I received it six days before the date set down for the handing down of the judgement, 1st September 2009. (What would have happened if I had never received it? I have no idea. But the fact remains that I did receive it. I wonder why judgements cannot be sent registered post and/or email.)
Unfortunately I was so amazed by the judgement that it took me a day or two to marshal my thoughts and go back to the barrister. He unequivocally advised me (but this was after the judgement handing down) that the judge had got it wrong. I accepted this unhappy state of affairs (despite the Guildford’s judge’s cheerful dismissal of my point that I had in the days from the 13th August 2009 hearing to the date of the judgment handing down received compelling evidence that the defendant had adduced, I decline to say generated, tampered evidence in its favour) and trudged off to the Court of Appeal.
I here mention that I had by then received written advice from my sacked solicitor that I was owed £11,500 by the Courts Service for aborted costs. This claim was signed not merely by this solicitor but also that of the defendant. I was later to chase around the Courts Service for several months – the files were always on the move or getting lost despite the assistance offered by my MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC. So far I have been denied even a sniff of this £11,500. I face having to sue HMG. This deeply concerns me.
LJ Sedley’s dismissal of my application to appeal featured the advice that I had been fortunate to get any sort of hearing in the lower Court. What he means by that is uncertain. Does it mean that the case had no basis in law? Or does it mean that that my claim was obviously poor having regard to the evidence in point? He does not say. In either explanation he is surely implying that all three (or was it four?) judges who looked at this matter before him were sufficiently stupid to fail to make his point. Or is it the case that he made an error in applying the relevant law in that he categorised it as revolving around the applicability of the Gambling Act 2005 and that the 1845 Gaming Act applied? I do not know and, in any event, this question of the relevant betting law does not apply. LJ Aikens was later to consider the applicability of the SGSA 1982 (which does apply) and then failed to consider the central word to which I have earlier alluded.
I consider the CoA work to have been abysmal. Either it is very low level thinking or it is deliberately perverse.
I have always paid everybody their demands by return of post. I owe nobody even now – and that is by their agreement – and not merely by my claim.
The truth is that I have been cheated by the judiciary.