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England and Wales Court of Protection Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Protection Decisions >> TA, Re (Recording of hearings; Communication with Court office)  EWCOP 3 (22 January 2021)
Cite as:  EWCOP 3
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Re TA (Recording of hearings; Communication with Court office)
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| A LOCAL AUTHORITY
|- and -
(By her Litigation Friend, the Official Solicitor)
(GA's deputy for property and affairs)
TA appeared in person
XA did not appear and was not represented
Mr Parishil Patel QC (instructed by Messrs. Switalskis) for GA
SR did not appear and was not represented
Hearing date: 15 January 2021
Crown Copyright ©
The Honourable Mr Justice Cobb:
i) An application dated 17 November 2020, buttressed by a separate but similar application dated 15 January 2021, issued by TA for permission to make his own recording of this hearing and indeed all hearings in this case in the Court of Protection;
ii) An application, issued of the Court's own motion by HHJ Anderson on 10 December 2020, for an order restricting TA's contact with the Court of Protection Court office, given his history of communications with the court over a period of time.
I am also asked to give case management directions on the substantive application, and on linked applications concerning GA and HA. I discussed those directions with counsel at the hearing, and as they are in principle agreed, I do not need to address them in this judgment.
Application for permission to record the hearing
" under NO circumstances shall I be entering the jurisdiction of the Court and presenting myself before Mr Justice Cobb without making a private recording of the event.
Therefore, either permission is granted or I be prevented from entering the Court's jurisdiction. I am under no legal obligation to enter the jurisdiction of the Court, unrepresented as a litigant in person, and to then have my voice recorded without my express permission and at the same time prevented from procuring a copy of said recording in clear contravention of the Data Protection Act 2018, and then forced to pay for a transcription of said recording, without access to the actual audio recording itself.
I will no longer be compromised on this matter."
i) It is in breach of his human rights to be denied the right ("as a free person") to record conversations; that he has a right to make recordings of anyone entering his "jurisdiction", by which I understood he meant his home;
ii) He challenges the contention (see (ii) below) that he has published recorded information relating to these proceedings in the past, and that by posting material from, or related to, these proceedings on to a private 'YouTube' channel he is not "publishing" information and the video clips are not therefore in the public domain;
iii) The Local Authority employees are "pathological liars", and he has suffered "discrimination" from many judges ("bullied, intimidated and victimised"), and he needs the recordings in order to evidence this;
iv) He has experienced unnecessary delay in obtaining transcripts in the past; the transcripts have been costly, and in any event transcripts "do not capture the whole intonation and the silences in the court";
v) There is an incongruity between the practices of different courts;
vi) Opposition to his application for the right to record has been driven by a wish to "censor" TA;
vii) He would wish the recording "for my own protection and benefit".
i) No case has been made out for TA to be treated differently from any other litigant in person or other party; the widely recognised default position should apply here, and he should not be permitted to record the hearing;
ii) There is a risk that, if permitted to record, TA will publish the recordings on 'YouTube' or otherwise, as he has in the past; he refers to himself as a 'Wikileaks Wannabe' (see below);
iii) He can obtain the transcript from the court if he wishes a record of the hearing or hearings.
i) empower the court to direct that a recording of the proceedings be made (in the manner specified in the direction) for the purpose of enabling the court to keep an audio-visual record of the proceedings;
ii) create a criminal offence for a person to make, or attempt to make an unauthorised recording, or an unauthorised transmission, of an image or sound which is being broadcast in accordance with the law.
Nonetheless, as Hayden J, as Vice President of the Court of Protection, made clear in his guidance to which I have earlier referred ('Remote Access to the Court of Protection': 31.3.2020), the terms of the statutory criminal prohibitions (as adapted) were to be included in every standard order thereafter, accompanied by a penal notice and punishable by contempt proceedings. I have reviewed the orders made in this case since that time, and am satisfied that such orders have indeed from time to time been made and repeated. Furthermore, consistent with this approach, the Court Associate who called the case on before me, on 15 January 2021, made clear in her introduction to the hearing, that "under no circumstances" could the hearing be privately recorded.
" whenever the law of defamation would treat there as being a publication. This means that most forms of dissemination, whether oral or written, will constitute a publication". Munby J (as he then was) in Re B  EWHC 411 at [82(iii)].
This would, in my judgment, include him posting on YouTube, even if it were on a 'private' site, given the limited access which would be afforded there to YouTube employees (if only for the purpose of consideration of a complaint that its content offends YouTube's own terms and conditions, for example).
Order restricting communication with the court office
"Further to the communication sent to you on 19th September 2019 by the Strategic Director Health and Wellbeing, you have continued to engage with a range of Council staff and others using non constructive, abusive and inflammatory means and language.
Despite previous warnings from the Complaints Unit manager, you did not modify the way you engaged with Council services and others, and therefore, you were deemed a vexatious complainant in March 2019 and contact from you was restricted. This was due to the unsustainable amount of time taken up with the high volume of calls and emails you submitted and the unacceptable behaviour exhibited. This decision was reviewed on 19th September 2019 and extended for a further 6 months until 12th September 2020.
During the last 8 months you have ignored the limits placed on your contact with the Council and continued to behave unacceptably. Accordingly, you are now deemed a vexatious complainant for a further 12 months, until 12th September 2021.
This decision is in line with the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman's guidance on managing unreasonable complaint behaviour. Some examples of unreasonable behaviour according to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) are: making unjustified complaints about staff who are trying to deal with the issues raised, using a scatter gun approach by pursuing parallel complaints on the same issues with various people within the same organisation, making excessive demands on the time and resources of staff, refusing to accept a decision despite having exhausted the Council's complaints procedure, repeatedly arguing points with no new evidence, insisting on complaints being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with the complaints procedure, and engaging in offensive language. Your behaviour has included some or all of the above.
With immediate effect all your contact with [the Council] must be in writing. No telephone calls from you will be answered.
As regards correspondence from you which repeats matters previously dealt with, is designed to make excessive demands owing to the frequency of your communications or is otherwise judged to be abusive or unreasonable, no acknowledgement or reply will be given. The above restrictions apply to any correspondence from you directly, or from you on behalf of other people, or where you are making use of other email addresses either personal or anonymous.
Your situation will be reviewed in 12 months at which time a decision will be made as to whether future contact needs to continue as above. Please note that this does not prevent you from receiving other services provided by the Council but any contact in relation to them must be in writing and through the Complaints Unit.
If you are dissatisfied with the above decision and wish to appeal against this restriction, please appeal in writing to the Strategic Director Corporate Resources who will respond within 20 working days. Any other email you send in relation to this letter will be unanswered.
On a separate matter, you have enquired as to the position regarding your ability to record telephone conversations with Council officers. As you were not entitled to telephone officers, the question and answer were academic. It has since come to light that despite this restriction you have recorded calls with officers. The Council's position is set out below, but it remains hypothetical for the next 12 months (when a review will be undertaken or until September 2021 assuming no change in your behaviour) as the Council will not receive telephone calls from you.
If you record telephone conversations with Council Officers either covertly or without their express consent, you must only use these recordings for your own private purposes and you must not upload them onto social media or forward them on to any third party. When beginning a conversation with a Council employee and you intend to record it for private use only, you should advise the other person of your intention at the outset. If you intend to share the recording in any way you must advise the other person of this intention so they may decline to be recorded. If you share recorded conversations without consent you will place yourself in the position that any contact in future may only take place in writing."
"You can beat me to my knees, it only makes me stronger. I am unbreakable!! Did you hear me? DID YOU HEAR ME [Local Authority]! I am unbreakable. I am UNBREAKABLE, I AM UNBREAKABLE!!! The strength that lies in my heart is like no other. The determination that lives inside me is equal to no other. Every day, I wake up, I promise myself, I will make it, and I never break a promise I make to myself! I am unbreakable. I am Unbreakable.. I AM UNBREAKABLE!!!"
"HMCTS staff have deliberately destroyed my Court submitted evidence, of a year's worth of unused medication is marginalised and ignored and refused to be addressed to date. This was a deliberate attempt by HMCTS staff to pervert the course of justice in collaboration with [the local authority] and the Official Solicitor and [the judge], and is a serious criminal offence in law of looking to pervert the course of justice, which no doubt [the Operations Manager] is looking to find ways to get out of by discredit my name in a scapegoating exercise"
"It has taken up countless court and judge hours as both parties, incapable of compromise, have bombarded the court with endless applications, such that [counsel for the appellant] now tells the court the judge has had to make orders that neither party may make an application without the leave of the court. The refusal of either party to accept any ruling or decision of the court has meant that the court staff and judge have been inundated with emails, which they have had to deal with as best they could, with limited time and even more limited resources. The inevitable consequence has been that matters have been dealt with "on the hoof" on occasion without formal applications or subsequent decisions being converted into formal rulings or orders."
"Whilst every judge is sympathetic to the challenges faced by litigants in person, justice simply cannot be done through a torrent of informal, unfocussed emails, often sent directly to the judge and not to the other parties. Neither the judge nor the court staff can, or should, be expected to field communications of this type. In my view judges must be entitled, as part of their general case management powers, to put in place, where they feel it to be appropriate, strict directions regulating communications with the court and litigants should understand that failure to comply with such directions will mean that communications that they choose to send, notwithstanding those directions, will be neither responded to nor acted upon." (emphasis added).
" the court's supervisory role now extends beyond the mere regulation of litigation and of litigants who have submitted themselves to the compulsory jurisdiction of the court. It includes the regulation of the manner in which the court process may in general be utilised. It is of course well established that the High Court may, in appropriate circumstances, grant an injunction to restrain an anticipated interference with the administration of justice, amounting to a contempt (Attorney-General v Times Newspapers Ltd  AC 273, 293G-294A, 306B). The advent of the Civil Procedure Rules only serves to bolster the principle that in the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction the court has the power to restrain litigants from wasting the time of court staff and disturbing the orderly conduct of court processes in a completely obsessive pursuit of their own litigation, taking it forward by one unmeritorious application after another and insisting that they should be afforded priority over other litigants."
Order in relation to communications with the Court Office
22 January 2021
UPON hearing counsel for the Applicant and Leading Counsel for GA, and on TA having notice of this application, having responded to the written evidence, and having attended for part of the hearing in person,
And on considering the evidence filed by the Operations Manager, from the Court of Protection Office in Leeds, and the exhibits thereto, and on considering the response of TA
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. [TA] is hereby prohibited until further order from telephoning or sending any e-mail to any office, member of staff or judge, of the High Court or of the Court of Protection or County Court whether personally or through his servants or agents.
2. If [TA], whether by himself his servants or agents, sends a letter by stamped Royal Mail, containing abuse of any member of staff or judge to any office, member of staff or judge, of the High Court or of the Court of Protection or County Court, then that letter together with any enclosures or attachments, may be filed, destroyed, or deleted without being read and without any acknowledgment or reply being sent.
3. For the avoidance of doubt, this order does not prevent emails being sent to [TA] by the court office of the High Court or of the Court of Protection or County Court.
4. This order may be served on [TA] by email sent to XXX@XXX.
5. Any application for this order to be set aside, varied, or discharged must be made by application or letter and will be heard by Mr Justice Cobb. Such hearing shall be arranged by Court of Protection court office in Leeds, in consultation with the clerk to Mr Justice Cobb.
6. The reasons for this Order are set out in the judgment delivered on 22 January 2021.
7. Abuse of the judiciary and of the court staff will not be tolerated.
8. This order is required to protect the court staff and judges from [TA's] persistent and voluminous correspondence and to prevent him from sending intemperate and abusive emails. He will be able to communicate with the Court, but only by stamped letter sent by Royal Mail. Should he, however, send an abusive letter, he has no right to expect that any response will be given to it.
9. E-mail service of this order is appropriate because:
a. personal service should be avoided unless absolutely necessary at the present time;
b. TA was present at the hearing at which I announced this decision;
c. It is clear from what I have set out above that [TA] receives the Court's e-mails, which makes e-mail the most suitable form of service.