Whilst thankfully not something one comes across every day, I do have personal experience of acting for an employer client who faced one such serial litigant in their recruitment agency business. The individual in question was an applicant for a job never having worked for the respondent or the other dozen or so respondents against whom he brought claims. He had no need to earn a real living of course living off the no doubt countless settlement proceeds he secured to deal with the nuisance value of the claim.
Where an application for a strike out is refused under rule 18 of the Employment Tribunal Rules, what are the other options open to the client? Well a strike out was also refused in my case as it was a discrimination claim where such strike outs are rare. You can give a costs warning and secure costs as we did in one of the three cases but enforcement of the costs order is normally a waste of time.
You can lodge an application about the vexatious individual to the Attorney General’s Office for them to investigate in the hope that the AG then makes an application to the Employment Appeals Tribunal for a Restriction of Proceedings Order (RPO). Again we tried this but progress was just too slow. An investigation must take place and the AG needs to determine it is in the public interest to make the application.
A less known route is that of a Civil Restraint Order in the High Court. This is a more expensive route for the client but may be effective when dealing with serial vexatious litigants. The timing of the application is critical as it should be made without too much delay or else the Court may refuse the Order but not too soon to mean you do not have sufficient evidence to support your position.
A Civil Restraint Order can be, a “limited” Order, which in essence means it prevents the litigant from making further applications in those proceedings without permission. It can be an “extended” Order which prevents the litigant from issuing further claims or applications which concern any matter involving or relating to or even touching upon the issues in the current proceedings without permission. Lastly, it could be a “general” Order where the litigant is prevented from issuing any claim or making any application without permission.
Whilst I had thought they were not widely used, a list can be found on the Ministry of Justice website which sets out the details of around 200 individuals currently subject to some form of Civil Restraint Order. Perhaps when acting for respondents in a claim which appears to be totally without merit, scandalous or vexatious a quick glance at the list may be in order.