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Senior Courts Act 1981

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42 Restriction of vexatious legal proceedings. E+W

(1)If, on an application made by the Attorney General under this section, the High Court is satisfied that any person has habitually and persistently and without any reasonable ground—

(a)instituted vexatious [F1civil] proceedings, whether in the High Court [F2or the family court] or any inferior court, and whether against the same person or against different persons; or

(b)made vexatious applications in any [F1civil] proceedings, whether in the High Court [F2or the family court] or any inferior court, and whether instituted by him or another, [F3or

(c)instituted vexatious prosecutions (whether against the same person or different persons),]

the court may, after hearing that person or giving him an opportunity of being heard, [F4make a civil proceedings order, a criminal proceedings order or an all proceedings order.]

[F5(1A)In this section—

  • civil proceedings order” means an order that—

(a)no civil proceedings shall without the leave of the High Court be instituted in any court by the person against whom the order is made;

(b)any civil proceedings instituted by him in any court before the making of the order shall not be continued by him without the leave of the High Court; and

(c)no application (other than one for leave under this section) shall be made by him, in any civil proceedings instituted in any court by any person, without the leave of the High Court;

  • criminal proceedings order” means an order that—

(a)no information shall be laid before a justice of the peace by the person against whom the order is made without the leave of the High Court; and

(b)no application for leave to prefer a bill of indictment shall be made by him without the leave of the High Court; and

all proceedings order” means an order which has the combined effect of the two other orders.]

(2)An order under subsection (1) may provide that it is to cease to have effect at the end of a specified period, but shall otherwise remain in force indefinitely.

(3)Leave for the institution or continuance of, or for the making of an application in, any [F6civil] proceedings by a person who is the subject of an order for the time being in force under subsection (1) shall not be given unless the High Court is satisfied that the proceedings or application are not an abuse of the process of the court in question and that there are reasonable grounds for the proceedings or application.

[F7(3A)Leave for the laying of an information or for an application for leave to prefer a bill of indictment by a person who is the subject of an order for the time being in force under subsection (1) shall not be given unless the High Court is satisfied that the institution of the prosecution is not an abuse of the criminal process and that there are reasonable grounds for the institution of the prosecution by the applicant.]

(4)No appeal shall lie from a decision of the High Court refusing leave [F8required by virtue of this section].

(5)A copy of any order made under subsection (1) shall be published in the London Gazette.

Textual Amendments

F2Words in s. 42(1)(a)(b) inserted (22.4.2014) by Crime and Courts Act 2013 (c. 22), s. 61(3), Sch. 10 para. 60; S.I. 2014/954, art. 2(d) (with art. 3) (with transitional provisions and savings in S.I. 2014/956, arts. 3-11)

F3S. 42(1)(c) and word “or” preceding it inserted by Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (c. 23, SIF 39:1), s.24(2)(b)

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

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