Vexatious litigant order prevents future proceedings
- The above discussion demonstrates that the wife has filed a number of proceedings in this Court that are without merit and are vexatious, within the meaning of s.102QB. As discussed by Davies J and endorsed by Benjamin J, the requirement of “frequency” may be met by a relatively small number of proceedings, if the proceedings are an attempt to re-litigate proceedings that have already been determined. I conclude that the wife’s history of litigation in this Court during 2015 and 2016 is sufficient to find that she has frequently filed vexatious proceedings.
- I accept the wife has not filed these proceedings purely out of spite, to harass or annoy the husband, but the impact of these vexatious proceedings upon the husband cannot be ignored. It is clear that the wife continues to believe the 2011 final orders reflect a grave miscarriage of justice perpetrated by the husband against her. The wife appears unable to accept that she has now exhausted all legal avenues in this regard. She is unable to accept “the principles of finality of litigation” as discussed by Perram J, above.
- Section 102QB is designed to protect parties and the Court from exposure to repetitive and unmeritorious proceedings. Such proceedings can be a considerable drain upon Court resources and can cause great cost and inconvenience to other litigants, such as the husband in this case.
- Limiting a citizen’s access to the Court system is a very significant step. It is not a decision that any Judge takes lightly, but only after due consideration and reflection on the evidence presented. However, a citizen’s right to access the Court must be balanced against another citizen’s right to be protected from vexatious Court proceedings. In this matter, there is a real risk that the wife will continue to initiate further proceedings that will be equally without reasonable grounds and an abuse of process. I conclude that the wife should be restrained from initiating any proceedings in this Court or any other Court exercising jurisdiction pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975, without first being granted leave pursuant to s.102QE.
- The husband also seeks an order for security of costs, should the wife seek such leave to commence further proceedings. Section 102QB (2)(c) empowers the Court to make “any other order the court considers appropriate…” and this includes an order for security of costs.
- The extent of past litigation and the quantum of outstanding costs orders already made in the husband’s favour in various courts leads me to conclude that an order for security for costs may be appropriate and may provide some level of protection for the respondent husband. However, this question would need to be determined in relation to any further proceedings the wife may seek leave to file, taking into account the relevant legal principles in relation to security for costs.
- In relation to the Applications still before the Court, the wife’s Amended Response to an Application in a Case filed 4 March 2015 should be dismissed, as the orders sought are either vexatious, or misguided. The same conclusion applies to her Applications filed 18 December 2015 and 12 January 2016. Having determined that the wife’s Initiating Application formally filed on 31 March 2016 is also a vexatious proceeding, that Application should also be dismissed.
- The wife’s Application in a Case filed 11 December 2015 should be dismissed, aside from paragraphs 2 and 3. The wife’s Application in a Case filed 15 March 2016 is conceded by the husband and I will stay the Enforcement Warrant and associated proceedings. The wife’s Application in a Case filed 29 March 2016 has not yet been determined.