26 Sept 2022

Restrictions imposed over 'vexatious litigation' in relation to Laois farm

Portarlington woman's litigation in relation to her former farm was described as "obsessive, hopeless and vexatious"

A High Court judge has imposed litigation restrictions on a woman and her non-professional advisor over multiple actions that amounted to "an abuse of process upon an abuse of process" involving her former Laois farm near Portarlington.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey made orders against June Smith and William Murphy arising out of what he described as her "obsessive, hopeless and vexatious" litigation in relation to her former farm at Carn, Portarlington, Co Laois, mortgaged to ACC Loan Management

ACC appointed a receiver over the property arising out of a failure to repay a loan of €2m secured on the farm, who subsequently sold the property.

Last July the High Court dismissed Mrs Smith's action against ACC and the receiver contesting their right to sell the property.

The Judge said the action was one of several brought by Mrs Smith regarding the farm since judgment was obtained against her in 2012.

Among the actions was a permanent injunction granted by the High Court preventing Mrs Smith from trespassing on her former farm.

As a result of such cases the High Court made what is known as an Isaac Wunder Order which prevents her taking any further proceedings regarding the farm against ACC and the receiver, except with the permission of the President of the High Court.

Mr Justice Twomey said despite this order Mrs Smith issued other motions over the sale of the farm, this time against different parties including Ballinline Ltd the company which bought the farm, the State and the Garda Commissioner.

The Judge said in September Mrs Smith obtained an injunction, granted by Mr Justice Max Barrett who had no familiarity with the case, to prevent Ballinline from trespassing on the farm.

Certain facts, including that an injunction had been put in place against her and that Ballinline were the owners of the farm, were not brought to Mr Justice Barrett's attention by Mrs Smith, JudgeTwomey said.

The Judge said he was dismissing Mrs Smith's applications which he said was an abuse of process. 

Mr Justice Barrett was "clearly misled" and told a "blatant lie" by Mrs Smith, while being assisted by Mr Murphy, to obtain a completely unjustified injunction.

In addition she also brought proceedings against her former solicitor seeking declaration he had breached his duty as a solicitor because he had acted for the company in the purchase of the farm. 

The Judge said the allegations against the solicitor were scandalous and unsubstantiated and struck out her motions against him.

The Judge said he was satisfied that by bringing the proceedings in September Mrs Smith had deliberately and consciously ignored the Isaac Wunder order previously made against her.

He  noted that she would "stop at nothing in her quest to regain her property," and had treated the proceedings, in which she was advised by Mr Murphy, as some kind of "cat and mouse game".

In the circumstances the Judge said he was expanding the Isaac Wunder Order against her.

He said no proceedings could be taken by her against any defendant in relation to the farm without the consent of the president of the High Court, the Judge said. 

The Judge said he was also disqualifying Mr William Murphy, who had assisted Mrs Smith from acting as an advisor, who is not a solicitor or barrister known as a McKenzie friend.

In this case the Judge said there could be no doubt the the administration of justice was being impeded, and there was an abuse of process occurring with the active assistance of a McKenzie friend.

Since the court's judgment in July there had been an abuse of process upon abuse of process upon which Mr Murphy had advised.

The Judge said he was making the order to ensure that taxpayers money is not wasted by vexatious litigation brought with the assistance of Mr Murphy and that deserving litigants don't have their hearing delayed by never ending frivolous litigation.

The Judge said the order means that Mr Murphy, who the judge noted has acted as a McKenzie in many other cases and has a "busy practice", cannot provide assistance or advice to any person in relation to court proceedings unless he obtains the consent of the President of the High Court.

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