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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions
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Cite as:  EWCA Civ 944
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ON APPEAL FROM QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION,
LONDON MERCANTILE COURT
HHJ MACKIE QC
2013 FOLIO 967
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| In the matters of
(1) DHARAM PRAKASH GOPEE, (2) BARONS FINANCE LIMITED,
(3) REDDY CORPORATION LIMITED, (4) GHANA COMMERCIAL BUNKS,
(5) GHANA COMMERCIAL FINANCE LIMITED, (6) BARONS BRIDGING FINANCE,
(7) BARONS BRIDGING I LIMITED, (8) PANGOLD LIMITED,
(9) PANGOLD PROPERTIES LIMITED, (10) AGNI INVESTMENTS LIMITED,
(11) BARONS FINANCE 2 LIMITED, (12) MONEYLINK FINANCE LIMITED,
(13) SPEEDY BRIDGING FINANCE, (14) EURO BRIDGING FINANCE
|- and -
In Case No: A3/2013/2226A and A3/2013/2226A
DHARAM PRAKASH GOPEE
|- and -
LONDON MERCANTILE COURT
In Case No: A3/2014/1412
DHARAM PRAKASH GOPEE
|- and -
LONDON MERCANTILE COURT
(1) GHANA COMMERCIAL INVESTMENT LIMITED
(2) MONEYLINK FINANCE LIMITED
Crown Copyright ©
Lady Justice Gloster :
i) that Mr Gopee, whether by himself, his employees, agents or otherwise howsoever be restrained from taking any steps to bring or continue any legal proceedings in any county court to recover money due or seek possession of any property arising out of or in connection with any loan, whether brought in the name of Mr Gopee or any company or partnership in which he had any interest or control or over which Mr Gopee had any power or management, including but not limited to Reddy Corporation, Ghana Commercial Banks, Ghana Commercial Finance, Barons Bridging 1 Ltd, Pangold and any company with a similar name without first obtaining an Order from the London Mercantile Court permitting Mr Gopee to do so;
ii) that Mr Gopee forthwith do seek to have transferred to the London Mercantile Court all existing proceedings which fall within the definition in paragraph i) above;
iii) that within 14 days lodge Mr Gopee do lodge with the London Mercantile Court a list containing details, (including date of issue, issue number, names of parties and name of Court) of all current County Court proceedings within the definition paragraph i) above;
iv) that Mr Gopee might apply to the Mercantile Court to seek to vary or discharge the order within 7 days of it coming to his attention; but that any such application had to be supported by a witness statement lodged not less than 72 hours before the hearing and by skeleton argument lodge not less than 24 hours before the hearing; the judge advising Mr Gopee but not requiring him to have legal representation on any such application; and
v) that such order was to remain in force, notwithstanding any such application, unless it was varied or discharged by the Mercantile Court.
The 19 July 2013 Order was endorsed with a penal notice.
i) a stay of execution;
ii) an order that there be permission for Mr Gopee and his associated companies to continue with the enforcement of various proceedings "that have already been concluded several years ago in the County Courts where regular judgment orders have already been made";
iii) permission to amend the grounds of appeal in order to include facts from other appeals.
i) Mr Gopee, whether by himself, his employees, agents or otherwise howsoever take no steps to bring or continue any legal proceedings in any County Court to recover money due or to seek possession of any property arising out of or in connection with any loan, or any proceeding relating in any way whatsoever to any such loan or such property (including without limitation any dealing with or use of such property and whether brought against the borrower, tenant, occupier or anyone else) whether brought in the name of Mr Gopee or of any company or partnership in which Mr Gopee had any interest or control or over which he had any power of management, including but not limited to Reddy Corporation, Ghana Commercial Banks, Ghana Commercial Finance, Barons Bridging 1 Ltd, Pangold, Barons Finance 2 Ltd, Moneylink Finance Limited, Pangold Properties Limited, Agni Investments Limited, Speedy Bridging Finance, Euro Bridging Finance and any company with a similar name without first obtaining an order from the London Mercantile Court permitting Mr Gopee to do so; (the order referred to the words in bold type as an addition to the 19 July 2013 Order and stated that it "should be considered carefully");
ii) Mr Gopee forthwith seek to have transferred to the London Mercantile Court all existing proceedings which fall within the definition in paragraph i) above; (the extended order stated that this repeated the terms of the 19 July 2013 order to which Mr Gopee had been subject since 19 July 2013);
iii) that by 4:30 PM on 28 February 2014 Mr Gopee lodge with the London Mercantile Court a list containing details (including date of issue, issue number, names of parties and names of Court) of all County Court Proceedings in which any application was capable of being made, or in respect of which any enforcement was or would be potentially available, within the definition in paragraph i) above; (the extended order stated that this paragraph repeated in modified form the obligation which Mr Gopee had been under since the Order of 19 July 2013);
iv) all and any such County Court proceedings not set out on the list referred to in paragraph iii) above would be struck out, alternatively transferred to the London Mercantile Court and struck out on 7 March 2014; and that all existing judgments obtained by claimants in those cases will be set aside from the same date; all applications arising out of such strikeouts and setting asides will be heard by the London Mercantile Court not in the County Court;
v) all and any proceedings of the kind described in paragraph i) above brought in the County Court but not in the London Mercantile Court after today's date will be automatically transferred to the London Mercantile Court;
vi) Mr Gopee will not, without first having obtained an order from the London Mercantile Court permitting Mr Gopee to do so, claim, give notice of, or otherwise assert in any way to any defendant in any case within the definition of paragraph i) above, any potential such defendant, any alleged rights under any alleged assignment or other transfer or change of name or seek to register, assert or otherwise notify such rights to any third party including, but not limited to, HM Land Registry or any similar bodies;
vii) any application under the extended order must be supported by witness statement lodged not less than 72 hours before the hearing and by skeleton argument lodge not less than 24 hours before the hearing; Mr Gopee was advised (but not required) to have legal representation on any such application; the order was to remain in force, notwithstanding any such application, unless and until it is varied or discharged by the London Mercantile Court or by the Court of Appeal.
The extended order expressly warned Mr Gopee that the terms of the extended order differed significantly from those of the order of 19 July 2013 and should be studied carefully; it was also made subject to a penal notice.
i) an order setting aside the order made by Longmore LJ dated 29 January 2014 on the grounds that there was no hearing on 19 July 2013 before HH J Mackie and therefore there was no transcript alternatively for the sanction in the order to be lifted on similar grounds;
ii) an order that Mr Gopee be granted permission to amend section 5 of his appellant's notice to include an appeal against the extended order made by HH J Mackie QC on 29 January 2014;
iii) permission to amend the grounds of appeal and an extension of time to file and serve the amended grounds of appeal and skeleton argument;
iv) a further order that additional parties affected by the extended order (namely numerous companies beneficially owned by or connected to Mr Gopee) be made joint applicants/appellants.
"1. Mr Gopee has applied to join the Chief Land Register [sic] as a party to this case and seek related relief.
2. The applicant is free to issue separate proceedings against HM Land Registry if he wishes to do so. However there is no basis disclosed in the application for adding HM Land Registry as a party. For example the applicant has produced no draft pleading.
3. This action (number 2013 Folio 967) exists only as a framework within which the court has issued orders of its own motion. There are will be no pleadings. There is no purpose in adding new parties and the action is not a suitable vehicle claims against HM Land Registry which should be brought, if at all, by separate action.
4. The application is therefore dismissed without a hearing."
"The Claimant [Ghana Commercial Investments Limited] is a newcomer to this litigation. It claims to have acquired fifteen properties between December 2013 and April 2014. No details are given of how it comes to have title to those properties. Behind most (but not all) transactions which have come before this court are two issues. First Barons Finance Limited is in liquidation and valid doubts have been raised about transfers between companies in the period leading up to, and during, the liquidation. Secondly title to properties has been obtained in the past following alleged defaults on loans made in breach of relevant legislation. The proposed Claimant will no tbe permitted to proceed unless and until it has satisfied the court, by filing a witness statement and appropriate exhibits, that it arguably has a valid title notwithstanding these two issues.
The proposed claimant appears to be owned and controlled in substance by Mr Gopee. It appears to be litigating entirely at the initiative of Mr Gopee. Mr Gopee is warned that, in these cases as in all others, he may be personally subject to applications to pay costs should the cases proceed but be unsuccessful."
"Further references to be made to Index of Bundles Numbered 1 and 2 In Appeal Reference to 2014/1412 which relates to the Order Of 29/1/14 which superseded the order of 19/7/13".
i) by paragraph 8 of the order which I made on 26 March 2015 I granted Mr Gopee an extension of time to bring his application dated 26 February 2014 to set aside the order of Lord Justice Longmore dated 28 January 2014; (the recital to the order wrongly refers to an application for an extension of time for permission to appeal against the 19 July 2013 Order;)
ii) by paragraph 10 of the order the decision as to whether Mr Gopee should have permission to appeal in relation to case reference 2013/2226 was reserved;
iii) I further directed that Mr Gopee should provide to the court by noon on 2 April 2015:a) copies of all the letters, emails, faxes et cetera referred to in the course of the hearing from the Insolvency Service stating that the OFT was wrong to suggest that they had already made a decision to wind up the relevant companies associated with Mr Gopee;b) a list of all the companies which Mr Gopee was associated with between 1 July 2013 and 26 March 2015.
"Judge Mackie QC:
1. The Court is making, on its own initiative in the exercise of its case management powers, unusual orders affecting an individual litigant in person and companies associated with him, who only occasionally instruct Counsel. I am therefore setting out my reasons in detail as this may assist Mr Gopee when making applications to the Court of Appeal. I am also taking the opportunity to summarise the current position in this litigation.
2. This judgment should be read with that in Barons Finance and Reddy Corporation-v-Makanju  EWHC153(QB). That decision was about an application for permission to appeal. I later allowed the appeal for the reasons given in that judgment. When dealing with the background in that case I said this;
3. "This is one of a collection of cases from county courts in the Greater London area, which I will call the "Barons cases", which have been sent to the London Mercantile Court to coordinate. The cases involve claims and appeals arising from loans made by Barons and companies associated with it including Reddy Corporation Limited and Ghana Commercial Bunks (sic). Sometimes, as a result of clerical errors, other similar names are used. The loans were generally made to people who have arrived in this country quite recently and are under severe financial pressure, at high rates of interest usually secured by charges on the borrowers' homes. In some of the cases, but not this one, there is an intermediary between Barons and the borrower whose role has been controversial. In most cases the Defendants now seek to set aside or appeal against orders obtained some years ago. These Defendants generally claim that they entered into the loans under severe financial and personal pressures and have only recently learned of the legal grounds upon which the original judgments, often obtained by default or after only perfunctory resistance, may be challenged. The Defendants often say that they were unaware of their legal rights when entering into the transaction in dispute.
4. The Claimant is usually represented by its director Mr Gopee, a quasi litigant in person of great experience but sometimes by Counsel. The Defendants often represent themselves. Those retaining lawyers often do so only sporadically. The lawyers, operating on a shoestring, sometimes lack full instructions on the facts and, as a result, the legal issues."
5. There are currently 30 actions brought in, or transferred to, this Court. Of these 19 are stayed because they involve Barons Finance Limited, a company which has been in liquidation since 12 September 2012. The Liquidator has now had a considerable period to consider the company's position. I bear in mind that his position has been complicated by an apparent failure by Mr Gopee to cooperate and by an alleged assignment of the benefit of the company's loan portfolio to another of Mr Gopee's companies. For case management purposes, I ask the Liquidator's solicitors to let the Court know within 14 days of today when the company will be in a position to decide what position to take on the cases before the Court. A copy of this judgment will be sent to the Liquidator's solicitors.
6. I have listed above what appear to be the other main Barons companies. That list is not complete or accurate for a variety of reasons, not least typographical and similar errors by the parties and the various courts. When referring to Barons companies I include all those affected by my Order against Mr Gopee of 19 July 2013 as amended on 29 January 2014. I refer in this judgment to Mr Gopee as such but in some documents he is mistakenly referred to as 'Mr Ghopee'.
7. I have referred to the limited representation available to Defendant borrowers and the fact that many are not able to represent themselves. Some Defendants simply give up. An additional problem for Defendants, most of whom lack legal aid, is that neither the Claimant companies nor Mr Gopee ever pay costs ordered by the Court.
8. Mr Gopee is more used to County Court litigation where the Court draws up the orders. As a result parties have often failed to draw up orders after hearings or have done so inaccurately. Rather than allow the litigation to grind to a halt I have adopted the occasional practice of preparing notes and directions which my clerk has sent to the parties.
9. The relevant background includes the established and lengthy record of incompetence, impropriety, lack of integrity and abuse of the rights of consumers shown by Mr Gopee and his companies recorded and found by the Tribunal (Barons Bridging Finance 1 Limited Case No CCA/2011/0004 and 0005). That decisions must be read as a whole but Paragraphs 5.26 and 5.105 record;
"Enough has been said already to show that the continuation of activities by BFL, BBF and Ghana Bunks for a sizeable period of time whilst unlicensed demonstrates in the Tribunal's view a lack of integrity on the part of Mr Gopee and those companies. The Tribunal again refers to the fact that in its view, it is also unfair, improper and deceitful to enforce agreements which are unenforceable without having obtained an order from the OFT allowing such enforcement. The overall impression duly created by such arrangements on the part of BFL, BBF and Ghana Bunks, both to consumers and to the various county courts where actions have been instituted, is that those entities were entitled to enforce the relevant agreements although they had been told in no uncertain terms by the Court of Appeal in particular, that they were likely to, if not in fact, be trading whilst unlicensed… Mr Gopee, as the person in charge of Reddy's business, not to mention those of the relevant associates, as well as those associates have shown themselves independently and together as being incapable of dealing with consumers on a fair basis…. The Tribunal has found that Mr Gopee in particular, not to mention his associates, have shown themselves to be unfair and lacking in the suitable degree of integrity and competence required to conduct a consumer credit or an ancillary credit business."
Developments since the Court gave judgment in Makanju
10. On 14 March 2013, after hearing argument from Counsel for the parties and from Mr Makanju in person I ordered that existing judgments in the cases of Adewale, Adedoyin, Adebayo and Makanju, both for money sums and for possession, be set aside. I made directions for the substantive hearing of those cases. I made different directions in the case of Olatunji and stood over that of Nnabuife. I allowed Reddy Corporation and Barons Bridging Finance Limited to be added as Claimants but declined to allow Barons Bridging Finance 1 Limited to be substituted for the Claimant Barons Finance Limited.
11. I had at various hearings directed informally that all proceedings brought by the Barons' companies in the County Court for recovery of money or possession from borrowers be brought in or, if already started, be transferred to the London Mercantile Court, which is part of the High Court. I had however made no formal order to that effect.
12. In May 2013, having received an email from the OFT and forwarded a copy to Mr Gopee, and being concerned that the Claimant companies were still enforcing in the County Courts, the Court sent the following message to Mr Gopee:
"I have received a communication from the OFT which indicates that despite my direction the above have been or may have been bringing proceedings in Northampton and other County Courts.
Given the considerations set out in judgments I have given in these matters and the court's concern that many Defendants may have no access to legal representation I propose, pursuant to the Court's management powers under the CPR and /or the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court, to consider making an order requiring all current actions, whether brought within the London area or elsewhere, to be transferred to this Court and that, until further order, all new actions be started in this Court.
Before I reach a decision whether or not to make such an order the Claimants must have a proper opportunity to oppose it if they wish to do so. The Court will therefore fix a hearing in the week beginning 10 June to hear any representations they or any of them wish to make.
In the meantime I direct that the Claimants must at any County Court hearing before the June hearing before me draw this note to the attention of the judge. I also advise the Claimants to bring no new actions in the County Court until the above hearing has taken place. If, for Limitation Act reasons, the Claimants need to take action they may issue proceedings in this court."
13. On 31 May 2013 the Court received a letter from solicitors for the Liquidator of Barons Finance Limited stating that he had been appointed in September 2012 and that Mr Gopee was hampering his investigations and failing to cooperate in numerous respects. The Liquidator also stated that the company had been purporting to assign the benefit of charges to third parties even after the date of the winding up petition.
14. The cases against Mr Akinwande and Ms Boladale were struck out in June 2013 as a result of the failure by Barons Finance 1 Limited (and Barons Finance Limited) to comply with the directions of the Court. The Claimants have failed to comply with an order requiring them to vacate registration of charges at HM Land Registry. At a hearing on 24 January 2014 the Defendants through their Counsel Mr Ollennu sought orders to remove those charges. I will make an Order but require a draft to be sent to the other side and lodged in the usual way. Counsel asserts, but Mr Gopee denies, that other Barons companies, Speedy Bridging Finance Limited and Euro Business Finance PLC are seeking to acquire rights over the properties in question. Against the background it seems extremely unlikely that those companies have any interest whatsoever in the properties. If the companies claim any rights they must apply to this Court to establish them and be ready, should the Defendants apply and justice require it, to provide security for costs.
15. On 10 June 2013 after a hearing I made an order staying all the actions in which the company in liquidation was a Claimant on the basis that any other party affected could apply to set that order aside. There has been no application by the Liquidator to set aside that aspect of the Order. I also ordered that all existing or proposed relevant proceedings in any County Court be transferred to or brought in this Court.
16. On 20 June 2013 I sent out a note headed "Barons Finance Limited, Reddy Corporation, Ghana Commercial Bunks, Ghana Commercial Finance, Barons Bridging Finance 1 Limited and other companies owned or managed by, or otherwise connected with Mr Darham Prakash Gopee." The note in substance said:
"I have at various times indicated that all current cases should be transferred to this Court and that any new ones should be brought here. I became concerned that my indication was not being observed and so sent the message attached to this note to Mr Gopee. Mr Gopee came to court on 10th June to take up the opportunity of being heard. Other interested parties attended by Counsel (although under a degree of misunderstanding about the purpose of the hearing).
Mr Gopee assured me that he had brought no new claims and that an order was unnecessary. He also said that he should not be required to issue proceedings in this court as the fee was lower when an action was brought through the Northampton County Court Bulk scheme. He was also concerned that further cases brought in this court might not receive justice as I have already decided several of them.
At the hearing on 10 June it also emerged, following a letter to the court dated 31 May 2013 from his solicitors, Stephensons, that the liquidator of Barons Finance Limited is concerned about what is seen as a lack of cooperation by Mr Gopee and a failure to attend a court appointment. Mr Gopee has apparently claimed that the loan book of Barons Finance Limited has been transferred to Barons Bridging Finance Limited and Reddy Corporation. At the hearing it seemed to be suggested that other Barons Finance Limited loans had been transferred to one or more companies with the first name Pangold.
At first sight it seems unlikely that any assignment by Barons Finance Limited of assets to another company managed by or connected with Mr Gopee will prove to be valid. Furthermore no such assignment can give the assignee greater rights than those enjoyed by the assignor. All the defences open to borrowers in a claim by Barons Finance Limited will be available to them if sued by the assignees. It is right that all cases brought by the assignees should be managed in the same way as those brought by the assignor. Furthermore there is a risk of injustice for borrowers, most of whom are of very modest means and either unrepresented or lacking more than occasional legal help, and may have no idea of the potential defences open to them. Moreover the District Judges in the London area, at least, will by now be aware that Barons cases may involve potential defences to borrowers. A name other than Barons will not catch the eye in the same way.
As I see it the case for keeping all these cases in one way place is overwhelming and the main disadvantage, the suggested risk that I may not have an open mind can be overcome, if it arises, by one or more cases being decided by a different judge. It is the case that I have decided legal issues against the lender companies and will continue to see these matters in the same way unless and until I am corrected by the Court of Appeal. That is consistency not bias. I have as yet conducted no trial involving evaluation of live witness evidence.
An order transferring all existing county court cases brought by any of the parties listed above is, as I see it, required by the overriding objective in CPR 1 and permitted by Section 41 of the County Courts Act 1984. I propose to exercise that power. As far as future cases are concerned the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court, as I understand it to be, permits me to make an order requiring that these be brought only in the London Mercantile Court.
Mr Gopee sometimes instructs Counsel but has not done so on this issue and I have heard only his personal submissions. Before I cause an order to be drafted and issued I will give him one further opportunity to instruct Counsel to oppose the course I propose to take, provided that he applies within 7 days of today."
17. On 19 July 2013 I made an Order, headed with a warning that any breach of it would be a contempt of court, in the following terms;
"You Dharam Ghopee, whether by yourself, your employees, agents or otherwise howsoever take no steps to bring or continue any legal proceeding in any County Court to recover money due or to seek possession of any property arising out of or in connection with any loan, whether brought in the name of yourself or of any company or partnership in which you have any interest or control or over which you have any power of management, including but not limited to Reddy Corporation, Ghana Commercial Bunks, Ghana Commercial Finance, Barons Bridging 1 Limited, Pangold and any company with a similar name without first obtaining an Order from the London Mercantile Court permitting you to do so.
2. You forthwith seek to have transferred to the London Mercantile Court all existing proceedings which fall within the definition in Paragraph 1 above.
3. You, within 14 (fourteen) days, lodge with the London Mercantile Court a list containing details,( including date of issue, issue number, names of parties and name of Court) of all current County Court proceedings within the definition in Paragraph 1 above.
3. You may apply to this Court to seek to vary or discharge this Order within 7 (seven) days of it coming to your attention. Any such application must be supported by a witness statement lodged not less than 72 (seventy two) hours before the hearing and by a skeleton argument lodged not less than 24 (twenty four) hours before the hearing. You are advised (but not required) to have legal representation on any such application. This Order will remains in force, notwithstanding any such application, unless and until it is varied or discharged by this Court."
18. On 29 July 2013, after a hearing attended by Counsel for some parties, including the Liquidator and Mr Gopee I made an order. This provided that, upon Mr Gopee agreeing to provide the Liquidator within 7 days with any letter before action, pleadings, correspondence, and court orders or notices in his possession or control, which relate to the claims to which Barons Finance Limited was a party, all cases in which the Liquidator is concerned were stayed.
19. There have been other hearings not directly relevant to the current issues. For example a dispute concerning the payment of rent was resolved in the case of Mr Kehinde Gbadegesin. Procedural orders have been made in other cases.
20. On 22 July 2013 I sent a note as follows to the OFT, to HM Land Registry and to Mr Gopee.
"I have received a letter from Mahul Shah of the OFT and emails from Genny Millinger of HM Land Registry seeking information and assistance about these cases. I thank you for these communications and apologise if my response has seemed over cautious. However my job as a judge is to decide cases between parties impartially in accordance with the law. I am not a regulator or enforcer of wider obligations which are identified in judgments I make in individual cases. There is as yet, despite the growing number of cases coming to light, no sign of the OFT taking any action to deal with the matter. However that is a matter for the OFT, not me." I attached a copy of the 19 July Order.
Mr and Mrs Ogunleye
21. On 24 October 2013 Mr and Mrs Ogunlye applied to this Court, without notice to the Claimant, and I heard live evidence from them. They live with their three children at a house in London E16 which they have owned since 1999. They borrowed £2,000 from Barons Finance Limited or Reddy Corporation in 2007. (It seems that at some point the lender became Barons Finance 1 Limited). They claim that they were seriously misled by the Claimants and by Mr Gopee. That claim is denied. County court proceedings were brought against them and transferred to this Court. At 9.15 am on 21 October they were about to go to work, as a support worker and a security guard, when their son answered the door to High Court bailiffs, supported by police, who evicted them in circumstances which must have been very distressful and humiliating. No notice had been given to them. Mr Gopee waited in a vehicle down the street. The children could not return to their universities that day. Mr and Mrs Ogunleye slept that night in a car and then secured temporary accommodation.
22. At the hearing on 24 October I set aside the eviction order on the basis that the Claimants could apply to restore it. The application came back with both sides having the opportunity to be present on 7 November 2013. I then said that I would put my concerns in writing so that Mr Gopee could obtain legal advice. I sent a note to Mr Gopee on 12 November expressing the provisional view that Mr Gopee's acts and omissions were a serious abuse of process. My note continued:
"Mr and Mrs Ogunleye, like a number of other defendants in 'Barons' cases, applied in Bow County Court for permission to appeal out of time against a possession order. That application is still pending as Mr Ghopee knows. Mr Ghopee is also aware that all such applications in the London Mercantile Court have so far been successful. Following an application by the Ogunleye's then solicitors, Mr Recorder Hancock QC ordered that the case be transferred from the County Court to the High Court to be heard by me. Mr Ghopee's latest witness statement confirms that he knew that it had been transferred to the Mercantile Court. The County Court sent the file to the High Court not marked for me or the Mercantile court. It was then allocated to a Master. Mr Ghopee applied to that Master, without disclosing that an application for permission to appeal with prospects of success was pending or that the case was due to be heard by me. The Master, knowing none of this, gave permission to issue a writ of execution. Mr Ghopee, a very experienced litigant, must have known that if he had made proper disclosure to the Court, it would never have permitted execution to proceed. As a result of Mr Ghopee's actions Mr and Mrs Ogunleye and their children were forcibly and wrongfully evicted from their home and caused considerable distress and expense. The Court is minded to impose sanctions upon Mr Ghopee and to take whatever steps are open to it to secure from him reimbursement to the Ogunleyes for their loss. As the Ogunleyes are not currently represented the Court will write to them seeking details of their legal costs and of what if any other losses they have sustained. Once that information is at hand copies will be sent to Mr Ghopee and a further hearing arranged."
23. The Court has received a Schedule of Costs from the solicitors who represented the Ogunleyes seeking costs of £1872 and 'Eviction Expenses' of £780.76. Both amounts are modest. I order that that Barons Finance 1 Limited and Reddy Corporation pay the total of £2,652.76 into Court (or if they prefer to the Ogunleyes) within 14 days, as a condition of being permitted to continue to pursue the action. That order is without prejudice to the Ogunleyes' rights to seek payment of the costs from Mr Gopee and also to seek damages for unlawful eviction against the two companies and Mr Gopee.
24. I heard Mr Gopees's explanation for this conduct both in November 2013 and again on 24 January 2014. He says that there was a misunderstanding, that the Defendants should have received a letter from the Court and that he was confused himself. I reject this account. Mr Gopee knew very well that the case should have gone to this Court and that there was an outstanding application for permission to appeal that had prospects of success and that the Defendants intended to pursue it.
25. The Ogunleyes have suffered a gross injustice as a result only of abuse of the Court process by Mr Gopee when representing one of his companies. No lawyer would have acted as Mr Gopee did. In general a company can only be represented at a court hearing by legal adviser having a right of audience. The company does not have the same right as an individual has to represent itself- see Civil Procedure 2013 Volume 2 13-7 at p2897. The Court may exercise its discretion to relax this rule. Different considerations arise at trial-see CPR39.6. In addition to the specific concerns in this case, the past record of Mr Gopee and his lack of candour referred to in other cases mentioned in this judgement are as I see it reasons for the Court to refuse to exercise its discretion. As I mentioned at the hearing on 24 January 2014 I was minded to refuse further permission to Mr Gopee to represent the Claimant company in this case. However Mr and Mrs Oguleye now have representation by Counsel and no party in any other case has objected to Mr Gopee's role. I will not therefore take the point further at this stage.
26. I emphasise that when he appears in court Mr Gopee is invariably courteous and his submissions are brief and to the point. I do not suggest that he is intellectually not up to the task of representing the company. My concern is with the apparent lack of integrity surrounding his approach to some of these cases.
27. I have made the same Order in relation to permission to appeal in this case as in Konadu referred to below and for the same reasons.
Other recent developments
28. By October Mr Gopee was still in breach of the 19 July Order at least in failing to file the list of cases specified in Paragraph 3. So the following note was sent to him on 28 October:
"I refer to the Order against Mr Ghopee dated 19 July 2013 which orders him, whether through his companies, agents or otherwise, to take no steps to seek possession of property or to recover money except as permitted.
In apparent breach of that order Mr Ghopee appears first to have sought and obtained trial directions in the Woolwich County Court in the case of Barons Finance 1 Ltd v Ikwue 1PA57130 and secondly to have obtained possession in the case of Barons Finance 1 Limited and Reddy Corporation v Ogunlye 2013 Folio 583, formerly 9 PA44395.
Paragraph 3 of the Order required Mr Ghopee to file a list of cases at the London Mercantile Court. He appears not to have done so.
Mr Ghopee is required to attend the London Mercantile Court next Monday 4th November at 2pm to explain the position. Mr Ghopee is strongly advised to be represented on that occasion as it may be that contempt proceedings, which may lead to his committal to prison, will be initiated. If Mr Ghopee and/ or his lawyers cannot make that time and date the Court will fix another time next week.This message will be sent to Mr Ghopee by email and by post to the last known address on the court file."
29. At the hearing on 7 November referred to above Mr Gopee claimed to have been under a misimpression about the scope of the 19 July Order. Again giving him the benefit of the doubt I informed him that, provided he applied for all further applications, whether issued by him or another party, in any County Court case covered by the Order dated 19 July 2013, to be transferred to the London Mercantile Court, the Court would take no further action as regards the case of Ikue referred to in my note of 28 October. That case was listed for hearing on 24 January but adjourned generally and I advised the Defendant to seek assistance from the Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau."
"evidence of a Defendant being unjustly alarmed and put to expense by alleged assignments. I consider that other Defendants in a similar position, but unable to afford all to contemplate further litigation, are entitled to protection and I have made an amendment to the Order against Mr Gopee to reflect this."
"Office of Fair Trading
45. As the Office of Fair Trading has been involved in the issues raised by these actions and representatives have attended some hearings I sought clarification of what if any steps the OFT was proposing to take. On 3 January 2014 the OFT responded and, having described past action, said this as to the future.
"In addition to liaising closely with the Liquidator, the OFT has been in regular contact with the Insolvency Service, Citizens Advice and the Illegal Money Lending Team (part of Birmingham Trading Standards). Further, the Land Registry has been informed of the licensing action taken and key legal provisions under the Consumer Credit Act have been explained, following their request. There has been a co-ordination of information between these agencies. In particular, each agency has advised on the powers that they hold and what action, if any, they can take to address Mr Gopee's apparent disregard of the law.
The OFT, upon becoming aware of Mr Gopee's apparent unlicensed credit activities, gave considerable thought to what, if any, further action could be taken. The options available to the OFT include civil proceedings for an injunction under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (which could be premised, for example, on the unlicensed trading and possibly on breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations). Alternatively, criminal proceedings for unlicensed trading could, in principle, be instigated. An initial analysis of the further evidence that would have to be obtained, together with the resources that would need to be dedicated to such action, was undertaken. From the OFT's experience of such proceedings, and given the approach of Mr Gopee to litigation generally, it was anticipated that any proceedings could be protracted and might not be resolved for a substantial period. In addition, any action taken had to have regard to the changes that will take place on 1 April 2014 to the regulation of consumer credit. Namely, the assumption of responsibility for consumer credit by the Financial Conduct Authority (all relevant consumer credit activity will constitute regulated activity under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000).
The OFT continues to keep under review its decision with regard to the potential action that can be taken. In addition, in view of the imminent change of regulator, the FCA is being apprised of the issues in this case. In particular, the Authorisations Department and Unauthorised Business Unit are being briefed about the history and practices of Mr Gopee.
In light of those considerations above, the OFT considered that the best approach, at least at this stage, to addressing Mr Gopee's continued unlicensed credit activity, was to dedicate its resources and the intelligence gathered to the Insolvency Service's investigation. To this end, the OFT is currently processing a formal request from the Insolvency Service for detailed information contained within our files (such a request will enable the OFT to comply with the restrictions on disclosure in Part 9 of the Enterprise Act 2002). Resources have been dedicated to responding to this request by no later than 16 January 2014.
We understand that a potential outcome of the Insolvency Service's investigation would be to wind up those companies being investigated and thereafter proceed to disqualify Mr Gopee as a director. It is our experience that this approach is capable of achieving outcomes more quickly in these kinds of circumstances than use of OFT's regulatory powers, but as indicated above, we shall continue to keep the situation under review and in liaison with the FCA as the successor body to the Consumer Credit regime.
Finally, given the OFT's experience of Mr Gopee's disregard of authority, the OFT sees merit in continuing with a multi-agency approach. Hence, in addition to the credit licensing action the OFT has taken, we remain in active consultation with the Insolvency Service, the liquidator of BFL and the Court."
The Bar Pro Bono Unit
46. Given the widespread lack of representation in these cases I contacted the Bar Pro Bono Unit and supplied them with some of the basic Court papers. I saw two representatives of the Unit to inform them neutrally of the issues. I held that conversation in Court so that if necessary a transcript of that discussion can be made available. So far as I am aware the Unit has not responded or assisted any of those involved in Barons transactions.
HM Land Registry
47. On 16 December 2013 the Court received an email from Mrs Millinger the substance of which is as follows;
"Land Registry Croydon Office has today received an application to register the following transactions affecting registered title number SGL387538 (16 Jenningtree Road, Erith, DA8 2JR), which we felt should be brought to the attention of His Honour Judge Mackie as soon as possible:
· a transfer (in Land Registry form TR2) dated 18 October 2012 made between (1) Ghana Commercial Finance Limited ("Ghana") and (2) Pangold Properties Limited (for a consideration of £1). (The transfer is stated to be made pursuant to the power of sale contained in Ghana's charge dated 5 September 2007 which is protected by means of an agreed notice in the title register of the property.
· a transfer (in Land Registry form TR1) dated 11 December 2013 made between (1) Pangold Properties Limited and (2) Agni Investments Limited (this company was formerly known as Barons Finance 2 Limited).
· a legal charge dated 11 December 2013 made between (1) Agni Investments Limited and (2) Moneylink Finance Limited and Reddy Corporation Limited.
· an application for the entry of a restriction (in Land Registry form RX1) in favour of Moneylink Finance Limited.
The applicant named in the accompanying Land Registry form AP1 is Agni Investments Limited. The AP1 states that the application was lodged by D. Gopee of PO Box 5467, Southend on Sea, SS0 9GY.
I have instructed the local office to reject the application. Section 39(1) CCA provides that a person who engages in any activities for which a licence is required when he is not a licensee under a licence covering those activities commits an offence. Section 21(1) states that a licence is required to carry on consumer credit business. "Consumer credit business" is defined in section 189 as "any business being carried on by a person so far as it comprises or relates to: (a) the provision of credit by him, or (b) otherwise his being a creditor, under consumer credit agreements". It would seem – and the OFT confirms that it believes it to be arguable – that the enforcement, in the course of business, by a creditor of securities relating to consumer credit agreements amounts to consumer credit business within the meaning of limb (b), and is therefore a licensable activity. It would follow that enforcing such securities – in particular, exercising the power of sale under a charge – without a licence constitutes an offence.
It may also be unlawful to enforce a security which is legally unenforceable. A regulated agreement is not enforceable by an unlicensed creditor, and nor is a linked security: sections 40 and 113. Even if the regulated agreement is enforceable, a "land mortgage" securing such an agreement is enforceable only on an order of the court: section 126.
It appears that trading without a CCA licence has the consequence that (a) loan agreements and any linked security entered into before 6 April 2007, where the court makes a declaration of unenforceability under section 140 CCA, are rendered void; (b) loan agreements and any linked security dated on or after 6 April 2007 cannot be enforced without an order of the OFT or the court (though the agreement/security continues to exist); (c) unlicensed trading is (and taking enforcement proceedings without a licence may also be) a criminal offence.
It is our understanding that neither Ghana, nor any of Mr. Gopee's companies, hold a Consumer Credit Act 1974 licence and so cannot enforce its charge without a court order. No court order has been lodged with the application, therefore we cannot accept the transfer in form TR2 referred to above.
In addition, we are concerned that that the transfer in form TR2 by Ghana may be in breach of the spirit of the restraint order made by His Honour Judge Mackie on 19 July 2013, which prevents Mr. Gopee and other named companies from "bring[ing] or continu[ing] any legal proceeding in any County Court to recover money due or to seek possession of any property arising out of or in connection with any loan...". We acknowledge that, strictly speaking, the order does not prevent a transfer in exercise of the power of sale or other disposition as these are not a "legal proceeding".
Strike out of all cases not transferred to this Court
48. On 19 December 2013 I sent a message to Mr Gopee which again referred to the absence of the list required by Paragraph 3 the 19 July Order. That note referred to a hearing on 13 December when I had asked him why he appeared to be in breach of the Order. He told me that he considers that the word "existing" means "active" or "current" and that he is only obliged to transfer and list those cases where there is activity. I had told Mr Gopee that he was wrong about that but that since his mistake may have been genuine I would write to clarify the position. I stated that Mr Gopee had been required (and, if I was wrong about that, was now required) to seek the transfer, and to list, not only those cases which are active but all cases, including those where there is a judgment, which may be the subject of any application or enforcement in future.
49. The note continued: "5. I further propose to order that all actions within Paragraph 1 of the Order, not detailed in a list as required by Paragraph 3 of the Order and submitted to this Court by close of business on Friday 17th January 2014, be struck out and that any and all judgments in those actions be set aside pending further order of this Court. Before making that order I give Mr Ghopee the opportunity to make written representations to the Court by Wednesday 8th January and, if he so wishes, to make oral representations, himself or through Counsel at some time to be fixed in the week commencing Monday 6th January. I propose to take this step because it is essential that all 'Barons' cases be dealt with in one place, that the Court to be able to exercise its case management powers, that Mr Ghopee be required to comply with orders of the Court and that there be adequate protection for the Defendants, many of whom appear to be unrepresented and particularly vulnerable and at least some of whom have suffered prejudice by abuse of the Court process."
50. On 10 January 2014 I extended Mr Gopee's time for making written representations until 20 January and said that I would hear any oral representations on 24 January. Mr Gopee submitted written representations on 20 January suggesting that the Court was exceeding its jurisdiction, using its case management powers incorrectly and prejudging the cases thereby breaking the Human Rights Act. Mr Gopee also pointed out that he could not control defendants who might revive a dead case. In oral submissions on 24 January Mr Gopee said that there was a very great number of cases and he needed more time. When asked how many cases there were Mr Gopee thought that there might be 200. I emphasised to Mr Gopee that I was not concerned with any cases which were finished and where there was no real prospect of any further application being made. I also extended time for compliance until 28 February 2014.
Reasons for making the proposed order
51. I remain of the view that I should make the Order to enable these cases to be managed properly. All the cases need to be in the same place and Mr Gopee has to respect and comply with Court orders. Mr Gopee has not complied with the 19 July Order and without a real sanction I do not believe that he ever will. There are further considerations.
52. First Mr Gopee asserts that I am prejudiced. I can understand why he has that impression but consider that he is mistaken. In Makanju I identified between paragraphs 14 and 22 a series of reasons apparently applicable in all these cases why the borrower had real prospects of showing that the lenders and their assignees could not recover the loans or enforce their security. At no point since I gave that judgment have the lenders shown any coherent reason why those provisional conclusions are not correct. There is at present no reason to believe that any of the loans which are or will be the subject of litigation are valid or enforceable, at least without leave from the OFT or the Court, or that the charges obtained and registered are valid either. Linked to this is the lack of any sign of any of the Claimants actively pursuing any of these claims on their merits or even suggesting that they have a prospect of success. Their position has simply been that existing judgments should not be disturbed. In the absence of further relevant evidence or legal argument, I have consistently taken the same view of the merits of this cases. In fact I look at each case on its merits and if there are grounds on which these loans can be shown to be lawful I am keen to learn what they are. I do not therefore consider that this objection to the Court having full knowledge or control of these cases is valid. Mr Gopee and his companies have a right to apply for permission to appeal which they exercise.
53. Secondly Mr Gopee has abused the legal process. He has used his position as a quasi litigant in person to fail to disclose important information about the legality of transactions he seeks to enforce, and of past decisions of the courts about them. If he had made proper disclosure it is unlikely that he would have obtained many of the judgments in the County Courts. He has abused the legal process in the other ways I have explained. I also have no reason to doubt what the Liquidator's solicitors have said about Mr Gopee's failure to disclose the litigation to their client.
54. Thirdly Mr Gopee has been relying on assignments to bring claims and secure charges in the names of companies other then Barons Finance Limited. Some assignments were, according to their face, entered into some time ago but the dates of some of these are challenged. Other assignments are dated very recently and obviously open to potential challenge by the Liquidator. The assignments, even if valid, may mislead other courts alert to the name of Barons but not to those of the assignees. Action under the assignments, whether by litigation or registration, is particularly distressing to the parties affected.
55. Fourthly there are more general concerns about the propriety of the Barons companies as the Tribunal decision referred to in Makanju explains. There is also now an investigation of various Barons companies being conducted under Section 447 of the Companies Act 1985.
56. Fifthly the Defendants and potential Defendants are vulnerable for the reasons I have given and in some cases at risk of losing their homes.
57. I will therefore order that any claim in any County Court which falls within the terms of my Order of 19 July, as amended, which has not been notified to this Court by close of business on Friday 28 February 2014 will be struck out, or on that date, transferred to this Court and struck out. Any future claim within the terms of the Order of 19 July not brought in this Court will be on issue be transferred to this Court and struck out. Any applications for relief will be heard in this Court, not the County Court.
Listing of hearings and procedural matters
58. At the hearing on 24 January one of the Defendants referred to the long time it takes for a hearing to be arranged, apparently under the impression that the Court decides when to convene a hearing. It is for the parties to apply for a hearing and this will be listed urgently if necessary. Last autumn one of these cases was heard on an hour's notice.
59. The Court will not make orders, except in a case of urgency, unless the other party has received notice of the application, has been served with the evidence and has had time to answer it. Failure to comply with these elementary requirements of justice leads to adjournment, delay and waste of costs.
60. Parties are reminded that in the High Court they are responsible for drawing up and serving orders. If I make an order in court it must then be drawn up, approved, stamped and served by the party who obtains it.
61. Orders for costs are generally made only against parties to the case. That is why I have generally declined to make orders against Mr Gopee personally. He is rarely named as a party to the case. Any party applying for costs to be paid by Mr Gopee personally must make this clear in advance of the hearing and comply with CPR48.2, which deals with costs against non-parties.
62. In these cases the court has taking the unusual step of making an order of its own motion. I very much hope that Mr Gopee will comply with the order that I have made. If however any party claims that there has been non compliance he or she should make an application. It is not the role of the Court to police compliance with its orders. The Court will not, except in a very clear case, act itself to deal with an alleged breach of an order.
63. It is important to bear in mind the limited role of the Court. The Court is concerned with managing and deciding the claims brought in and transferred to it, and to some extent with the claims to be brought in future. More general questions of enforcement are for the agencies entrusted with that task.
Orders and judgment.
64. The amended Order against Mr Gopee has been issued. This judgment also refers to orders in individual cases that I agreed to make at the hearing on 24 January but which I said I would communicate to the parties in writing. It is for those parties to draw up draft orders to give effect to my directions and to submit them for approval.
65. Copies of this draft judgment, which remains confidential until handed down, and of the amended Order against Mr Gopee and his companies will be sent by the Court to Mr Gopee, to all solicitors and Counsel who appear to be acting, to litigants in person who are actively engaged in these cases, to HM Land Registry and to the OFT. This is a draft judgment. Any suggested corrections of the usual kind should reach the Court by noon on Monday 3 February. The judgment will be handed down Wednesday 5 February. No attendance from any party is required."
"1. In this summary I set out briefly developments in these cases since my judgment dated 5 February 2014. I prepare it so that interested parties should know broadly what is happening in other cases. It should be read with two judgments, Barons Finance and Reddy Corporation-v-Makanju  EWHC153(QB) and Gopee  EWHC 138 (QB)
Transfer to the County Court
2. These cases are now finally in one place. I have decided all relevant questions of law and procedure, subject to correction by the Court of Appeal, but not in most cases their application to the facts. With the agreement of the Designated Civil Judge for London, I therefore propose to transfer most cases to the Central London County Court, reserved to District Judge Langley or District Judge Lightman for determination by one. The County Court is now in the Thomas More Building only about one hundred yards from this court. In my view the District Judges are best equipped to try the factual issues in individual cases. There are two other advantages to this step. First litigants in person and many of the lawyers in these cases are more at ease with County Court procedure than with that of the Mercantile Court. Secondly in most of the hearings in these cases (but not all) I have found against Mr Gopee. He has argued that I am biased. I have in at least two cases already ordered that any trial involving Mr Gopee as a witness be heard by another judge. That should happen in all cases.
3. All existing orders of this Court remain in force. This Court will for the time being retain supervision of all matters arising from or connected with its orders dated 19 July 2013 and 29 January 2014 and any other issues requiring a High Court jurisdiction.
Applications since January 2014
4. The Court's order of 29 January 2014 required the transfer of all relevant cases to this Court and for Mr Gopee to provide a list of all cases within a defined category. Mr Gopee complied and provided a list identifying 427 cases potentially the subject of litigation. Of these some 45 are currently before the court.
5. The Court has made a variety of interlocutory orders apart from those of case management. Orders have been made restraining the Claimants from pursuing Defendants for possession or payment until trial (eg Barons Finance Limited and Reddy Corporation v Manyo Plange in February 2014- while the first Claimant is in liquidation Mr Gopee claims standing through the Second Claimant). Permission has again been given to appeal out of time against first instance decisions made a substantial time ago (eg Barons Finance Limited v Thompson in January 2014). A long outstanding judgment which was affecting a finance executive's ability to secure a particular job was set aside (Sundeep Dewal in June 2014). The Court made mandatory interlocutory orders removing the registration of a charge in the name of Barons to enable two sisters to sell their home (Rowland in May 2014). Orders have been made granting summary judgment. A case has been struck out for failure by Barons Bridging Finance to pay a costs order of £7,000. There are pending applications for summary judgment by Defendants for which directions have been given (eg Adewale in May 2014). At least one case (Kwela) settled with a consent order in May. The Court made an order for possession in favour of Pangold (Dumitru) when it was satisfied that the tenancy was unrelated to the issues in this litigation. In one case this month a lender Dunfermline Building Society sought and obtained in an action against Ghana Commercial Finance Limited an order that Mr Gopee personally pay the costs of an application. The court has generally tried to hear these cases together on the same day (eg 9 were heard on 23 May 2014)
Applications against Ministry of Justice and HM Land Registry.
6. On 20 March 2014 I refused to permit Mr Gopee to add the Chief Land Registrar as a party to the case in which the court made the Order of 29 January.
7. In June I received six applications from Mr Gopee on behalf of Ghana Commercial Investment Limited for permission to issue proceedings against the Ministry of Justice, HM Land Registry and individuals who have allegedly sold their properties to the Claimant. The Claimant has claims arising out of what it says is the refusal of the Registry to register the sales. I have given a direction in three of those cases and the other three will be stayed for the time being. The applications were brought in this Court after Patterson J had refused permission to the Claimant to bring judicial review proceedings in the Administrative Court. (The judge made that decision based on my Order of 29 January 2014).
8. Permission to bring these actions is required because of the terms of the Order of 29 January 2014. I made that order to ensure that all litigation relating to what are known as the Barons' cases was kept in one place. I did not make it as the equivalent of a Civil Restraint Order. In principle therefore the Claimant should be permitted to proceed subject to questions of case management and abuse of process.
9. The claim against the Ministry is that it is vicariously liable for my acts and omissions. Mr Gopee is fully entitled to criticise my decisions and to claim that I am biased. As Mr Gopee is aware there is a route for those criticisms. It is to the Court of Appeal. An action against the Ministry based on my shortcomings as a judge is bound to fail. As it would be an obvious abuse of process I will not permit it to proceed. The draft Particulars of Claim must be amended to remove the Ministry as a Defendant and to delete all allegations which should properly be put before an appeal court.
10. The Claimant Ghana is a comparative newcomer to this litigation. It claims to have acquired fifteen properties between December 2013 and April 2014. No details are given of how it comes to have title to those properties. Behind most (but not all) transactions which have come before this court are two issues. First Barons Finance Limited is in liquidation and valid doubts have been raised about transfers between companies in the period leading up to, and during, the liquidation. Secondly title to properties has been obtained in the past following alleged defaults on loans made in breach of relevant legislation. The proposed Claimant will not be permitted to proceed unless and until it has satisfied the court, by filing a witness statement and appropriate exhibits, that it arguably has a valid title notwithstanding these two issues.
11. The proposed claimant appears to be owned and controlled in substance by Mr Gopee. It appears to be litigating entirely at the initiative of Mr Gopee. Mr Gopee is warned that, in these cases as in all others, he may be personally subject to applications to pay costs should the cases proceed but be unsuccessful.
12. Mrs Lilian Gray has made applications to the Property Chamber, Land Registration, First–Tier Tribunal against Mr Gopee and Barons Bridging Finance (Euro Business Finance), Property Chamber REF/2013/0927. On 14 April 2014 the Tribunal in effect required Mr Gopee to apply to this Court before being permitted to put forward certain defences. On 15 May 2014 Mr Gopee applied to this Court for permission to continue to defend the Tribunal case on the grounds he has put forward. The defence put forward to the Tribunal appears to be doomed on precisely the same grounds that have repeatedly failed before the County Court (when it has been aware of the legal issues ), the High Court and, when permission to appeal has been sought, the Court of Appeal. Indeed some of those grounds failed also before the Tribunal dealing with credit licensing. It would, as I see it, be an abuse of process for Mr Gopee to be able to raise the grounds put forward again in yet another case when they have no prospects of success. This will cause delay and inconvenience for the Tribunal and injustice for the other side. Potentially it raises the risk of inconsistent judgments although in practice the approach of the courts and tribunals on these issues has been entirely consistent. On 16 June I informed Mr Gopee that I was minded to refuse him permission to proceed with this defence. He has exercised his right to have an oral hearing to contest that view. Neither Mrs Gray nor her representatives are required to attend any hearing.
The Court's general approach to these cases.
13. On 4 March I rejected an application by Mr Gopee for orders to be made without a hearing in the case of Ogunleye. Some of the reasons which I gave may apply to other cases too so I summarise them now:
"I have frequently stated in these cases that each needs to be examined on its merits. However the apparently serious illegality of the loans and the potentially grave consequences for Defendants combined with the fact that the Claimant appears generally to have failed to give a candid account to the Court when obtaining judgment, means that permission will usually be given on judgment will be set aside unless a Defendant has had consistent access to informed representation or has been able competently to represent him or herself. I have reconsidered the position in the light of recent changes to the approach to deadlines in litigation and reaffirmed that view. I refer to my decisions in Barons Finance and Reddy Corporation-v-Makanju  EWHC153 (QB) and Gopee  EWHC 138 (QB) where I have set out more detailed reasons. Those considerations apply in this case.
I have repeated explained to Mr Gopee that if there are any reasons, which I have not considered before, to believe that the loans underlying this litigation are arguably lawful and enforceable I will be pleased to consider them.
Human Rights etc. Mr Gopee argues in effect that I am biased and he is denied access to justice because all his cases are managed by me. I see his point of view in that, having formed a view about the legal issues, as opposed to the facts of a particular case, that view will not change until some new factor persuades me otherwise or the Court of Appeal decides that I am wrong. I do not see consistency as bias but I recognise that Mr Gopee has now appeared before me many times. For that reason I will ensure that if any of these cases reaches trial and requires resolution of questions of disputed evidence involving Mr Gopee, it will be heard by a judge other than me.
Mr Gopee complains about not knowing what case he is going to face when he comes to Court. It is the case that on some applications Defendants have appeared seeking relief without giving the Claimant notice of their application. When that happens I refuse relief and give Mr Gopee an opportunity to be heard at a later date. It also happens that hearings are sometimes made futile because Mr Gopee, the Defendants, or sometimes both, have failed to comply with procedural directions. Confusion sometimes occurs because both sides misunderstand High Court procedures. However no case has been or can be listed without notice to the parties. On the specific matter of Mr and Mrs Ogunleye Mr Gopee has not sought to identify the facts which it is suggested that the Court has overlooked.
Mr Gopee has often referred to these cases being before the Court of Appeal but I have seen no judgment from that Court. This may be because Mr Gopee has been refused permission to appeal. As there are now potentially more than 400 cases affected by the views that I have formed it may be that the Court of Appeal should have an opportunity to review them. If Mr Gopee will inform me what the position is with his applications to the Court of Appeal so that I know how many are pending and which have been granted and which refused permission, I will consider granting him permission to appeal under CPR 52.3 (6) (b). Any such permission will be in case 967 not in that of Ogunleye."
Decision of the Court of Appeal
14. On 28 March 2014 Lord Justice Christopher Clarke in a reasoned judgment following a hearing refused permission to appeal against the decision of His Honour Judge Simpkiss in Ghana Commercial Finance Ltd v Sawyer. All parties in these cases should read that decision.
Position of the Liquidator of Barons Finance Limited
15. Mr Gopee remains in dispute with the Liquidator. The issues between them are encapsulated in the following extract from a letter from the Liquidator's solicitors to the court dated 7 February in the Dewal case:
"The Liquidator objects to the making of the order substituting Speedy Bridging Finance Limited as the Claimant in these proceedings.
The Liquidator is in the process of investigating the assets and liabilities of the Company. However, in his opinion, his investigations have been hampered by a back of cooperation on behalf of the director of the Company, Mr Gopee. Mr Gopee has alleged that the loan book of the Company has been transferred to Barons Bridging Finance One Limited and Reddy Corporation Limited on 31 March 2012. Mr Gopee is a director of both of these companies. It would appear that Mr Gopee is alleging that a further transfer has now occurred, the motive behind such transfer is questionable in view of a previous order of HHJ Mackie QC in respect of Mr Gopee and the threat of proceedings against Barons Bridging Finance One Limited and Reddy Corporation Limited.
Mr Gopee's position is not accepted by the Liquidator. In particular, the date of the alleged agreement, the motive behind the alleged transfer and whether it was made at all are all challenged. The Company was involved in court proceedings at this time and the Defendant in those proceedings had already obtained a default costs' certificate against the Company in the sum of £16,243.23 on 28 October 2011. On 4 April 2012, a demand was made for payment of the default costs' certificate.
It is the Liquidator's position that the transaction is liable to be set aside under sections 238, 239 and 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 on the basis that it is either a transaction at an under value, a preference or a transaction to defraud creditors. We are in the process of preparing the necessary court papers to deal with setting aside the transaction.
The Liquidator has also identified that various charges in favour of the Company were transferred to third parties after the winding up petition was issued. The Liquidator has not been provided with a copy of the validation order and as such the transfers are void under ection 127 of the Insolvency Act 1986."
The Insolvency Service
16. The Court has this month received a letter dated from Mr Daniel Slater of The Insolvency Service stating that he has been authorised by the Secretary of State to conduct an investigation under S.447 of the Companies Act 1985 into twelve companies associated with Mr Gopee. He says that Mr Gopee is no longer cooperating with his investigation and has asked for information about the litigation. The Court will therefore send him a copy of this Summary.
Financial Conduct Authority
17. I referred in the Gopee judgment of 5 February to the decision of the OFT to take no further action itself. The Court is unaware of the Financial Conduct Authority, which has succeeded to the role of the OFT but with increased powers, taking any action either.
18. I am publishing this summary like a judgment so that it comes to the notice of the many parties to these cases. Copies will also be sent to Mr Gopee, the Liquidator's solicitors, HM Land Registry, The Insolvency Service, the Financial Conduct Authority, and the administrator in the Court of Appeal dealing with these cases." [My emphasis.]
i) HHJ Mackie was biased in that he had prejudged all matters in which Mr Gopee and his associated companies were involved. He had pursued a crusade against Mr Gopee which was entirely unjustified.
ii) As a result Mr Gopee and his associated companies have been and will be continued to be deprived of their right to a fair trial contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998 if all the actions are dealt with by HHJ Mackie.
iii) HHJ Mackie had disregarded the changes in legislation to the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
iv) HHJ Mackie had wrongly reopened past cases without regard to authorities such as Henderson v Henderson (1843) AER 378.
v) As a result of the extended order dated 29 January 2014, associated companies of Mr Gopee, which had purchased properties, or which had acquired charges over properties through subrogation as a result of paying off debts owed to previous chargees, had been unable to have their purchases, or charges, protected on the register or protected by way of a notice on the Register of Titles maintained by HM Land Registry. The result of the extended order was that Ghana Commercial Investments Limited and Moneylink Finance Limited were unable, despite the fact that they had acquired properties, or obtained rights to charges through subrogation or as assignees to submit any application to HM Land Registry to protect their interests in the properties. Accordingly by the extended order HHJ Mackie had effectively deprived Mr Gopee and the applicant companies of their right to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions and protection of their properties contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998.
vi) The extended order was accordingly made without jurisdiction, or in excess of jurisdiction, without any valid justification. It was highly oppressive and of an exceptionally Draconian nature and ought to be set aside or quashed.
vii) The fact that HHJ Mackie had stated that there were no pleadings in the action and that the decision was by way of the court's own motion deprived Mr Gopee and his companies of their rights to a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998.
i) HHJ Mackie has now retired and therefore will not be hearing any cases. All cases will be dealt with either in the London Mercantile Court by a different judge (if they raise issues of principle) or by a judge of the Central London County Court, reserved to District Judge Langley or District Judge Lightman. Accordingly no questions of bias or prejudice can arise in the future and there is nothing to support the allegations of past bias.
ii) Neither Mr Gopee nor his associated companies have lost their ability to acquire properties, or interest in properties such as charges, or to protect their interests accordingly by means of registration at HM Land Registry. The fact that the results of the extended order requires them to issue proceedings to justify their entitlement to do so is merely as a result of the case management directions given by HHJ Mackie which, given the appalling past history of Mr Gopee and his associated companies' loans in breach of the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, are entirely justifiable. The fact that Mr Gopee and his associated companies are required to go through the hoops of issuing proceedings against HM Land Registry to satisfy the court that their loans or acquisitions are not yet another example of an appalling breach of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 cannot possibly in all the past circumstances be regarded as a breach of their human rights. If HM Land Registry wrongfully object to a request for registration in circumstances where there are no possible objections on Consumer Credit or other grounds, then no doubt it will have to bear the costs of any application made by Mr Gopee and/or his associated companies to obtain the Court's sanction to the transaction.
iii) In other words the orders of HHJ Mackie have not precluded Mr Gopee and his associated companies from protecting or establishing their rights in appropriate proceedings in the London Mercantile Court or in the Central County Court. These orders were a legitimate means of protecting the interests of the numerous borrowers whom Mr Gopee's companies had dealt with in serious breach of the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act. HHJ Mackie had by the time of the extended order had extensive experience of dealing with the problems to which these cases gave rise. His response was in my judgment a practical and proportionate one.