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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions

You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions >> Perotti v Watson & Ors [2001] EWCA Civ 2025 (11 December 2001)
Cite as: [2001] EWCA Civ 2025

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Neutral Citation Number: [2001] EWCA Civ 2025


Royal Courts of Justice
London WC2

Tuesday, 11th December 2001

B e f o r e :



- v -


(Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
Smith Bernal Reporting Limited
190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2AG
Telephone No: 020 7421 4040
Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)


The Appellant appeared in person
MR CR SEMKEN (instructed by Messrs Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, London EC3A 7NJ) appeared on behalf of the Respondents



Crown Copyright ©

    Tuesday, 11th December 2001

  1. LORD JUSTICE PILL: Before the short adjournment at about 12.30 the court indicated that it was refusing an application made by Mr Perotti that his applications and appeal should be adjourned for reasons to be given now.
  2. The applications are first an application for an extension of time and permission to appeal with appeal to follow if permission is granted from an order of Blackburne J on 7th July 1999 (A3/2000/3778); an application for an extension of time with permission to appeal with appeal to follow if permission is granted from the order of Laddie J on 16th July 1999 and an application for an extension of time with appeal to follow from an order of Laddie J of 10th September 1999 committing Mr Perotti to prison for contempt for a period of three months. The prison sentence has long since been served.
  3. Within the last few days Mr Perotti has also submitted further applications for permission to appeal. These relate to orders of Neuberger J given very recently. They have been listed, but without any indication on assurance that the court is agreeing to deal with them.
  4. The application is opposed on behalf of the respondent. It is supported by a document which Mr Perotti submitted this morning, headed "Point submissions etc for the outset of the hearing". That runs to five pages and is supported by a bundle of documents running to 24 pages. Mr Perotti has also addressed the court orally in support of his application.
  5. The basis for the application is that it was only last Friday that he was refused legal aid for today's hearing. There had, it appears, been an emergency certificate because the terminology used by the Legal Services Commission is that the certificate was discharged. Reasons for the discharge were given in a letter faxed to Mr Perotti's solicitors on 10th December (yesterday). I should say that while still in the belief that he would have legal assistance at today's hearing an application for an adjournment was made and was refused by me on paper on 6th December. One reason given and pursued by Mr Perotti on today's application is that he wishes to have the fresh applications heard with the older ones, and it would be convenient and in the interest of justice if all were to be adjourned and heard together at a later date. I repeat that that application was made while he believed himself to be in receipt of legal assistance for today.
  6. The grounds given are first that the complexity of these matters is such that Mr Perotti needs legal advice; second, that there is a breach of the Human Rights Act if he has to present his appeal without the benefit of legal assistance; and third, the withdrawal of legal aid has been so recent that he has had no time to prepare his own submissions. Counsel had already submitted to the court on Mr Perotti's behalf a document which is entitled "Partial Skeleton Argument."
  7. Mr Perotti has referred to two cases of the European Court of Human Rights in support of his application; also judgments of Simon Brown and Peter Gibson LJJ given in a case concerning him, though that case was as long ago as 1995, a very long time before his recent application for legal aid. He has also referred to a statement of Rimer J who had heard a long case involving the applicant appearing in person. In the course of his judgment Rimer J stated that the applicant was not the quickest person to think upon his feet.
  8. In the five-paged document to which I have referred, in addition to grounds being given for an adjournment, there is an application that in any event the court should give directions; and criticisms are made of Mr Watson who has been over the years his opponent in these proceedings. Mr Perotti submits: "The interest of justice override and take precedence over all other considerations, including Mr Watson's convenience." He adds that no one is above the law.
  9. In our judgment there is no real prospect of the applicant receiving legal aid. We considered the grounds on which it has been refused. They relate to the merits of the case as seen by the Legal Services Commission. They also consider in some detail the absence of information in their possession as to the applicant's assets. I do not propose to read the relevant parts of the letter (pages 23 and 24 of the bundle). Having referred to the possibility of assets they state that in any event "we will not reinstate the certificate until the following events have occurred". Considerable action by way of disclosure is required of him. It is further stated that the matters above "will take at least three to six months to resolve". Reference is made to the possibility of an appeal against the discharge. What Mr Perotti has referred to is the prospect of his seeking judicial review of the decision of the Legal Services Commission. He submits that in making any such application he will be prejudiced if the appeals proceed today in that the application will be made after the event, the event being the hearing. That may well be, but it does not seem to us to be a ground for acceding to his application for an adjournment.
  10. From what Mr Perotti has told us this morning and from the documents he has referred to, it is clear to us that he has a great familiarity with the subject matter of the applications which are before the court today. Many bundles of documents have been prepared. Mr Perotti has demonstrated his familiarity with the issues. Moreover, clearly he is not an inarticulate man. I referred to the "Partial Skeleton Argument" which had been prepared by counsel on Mr Perotti's behalf which counsel rightly sent to the court in accordance with the practice. The first paragraph states:
  11. "This is a partial skeleton argument which is intended to set out some of the arguments in support of some of Mr Perotti's appeals. Mr Perotti is in the process of appealing against the refusal of public funding in this matter so this skeleton is made pro bono. Mr Perotti wishes to make it clear that there are other arguments which he wishes to put forward so this skeleton does not deal with all the points which may arise on these appeals."
  12. In Paragraph 41 counsel states, referring to the question of the dispute about a secret trust:
  13. "And of course Mr Perotti will explain how he in fact had a strong case."
  14. It is plain that counsel contemplated that Mr Perotti himself would take part in today's hearing and make submissions to the court. Whether the court would have permitted that is another matter, but it is plain to us that in the course of preparation Mr Perotti has been under the impression that he himself would be addressing the court. His has great experience of litigation. He has spent a great deal of time in court. It is clear from the documents that he has been involved in litigation with respect to the series of transactions concerned. In our judgment he is in a position to present his case to the court and to do so today.
  15. Moreover, the court must bear in mind its duties to the public and to litigants in general. This case has been listed for two to three days this week, at a time when this court is very busy. The effect of wasted court days obviously has effects on other parties, in that there is a "knock-on" effect with respect to other cases. There is also a public interest in cases being determined. This series of disputes has gone on for a very long time. I refer to the fact that the custody concerned was completed as long ago as 1999. It is time that the present issues were resolved. Mr Perotti makes the point that he is not responsible for the delays because had other actions been taken by those opposing him we should never be in the position we are. Whether that is true, or whether there is any force in it or no force in it, this court has to view the situation as it exists today.
  16. We have considered the rights of the applicant, as well as the position of his opponents and the public interest. For the reasons we have given we refuse the application. The applicant is well able to present his case today in proceedings in which he intended in any event to participate. We also refuse the application he makes for other directions.
  17. (Applications refused; no order for costs).

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