(1) Bruce Godfrey Streather (2) Jonathan Patrick James Walsh v Christopher Charles Bodker [2016] EWHC 1311 (Ch)

A claim to determine the meaning of the term “market value” in a pre-emption agreement was struck-out for being an abuse of process under CPR 3.4, as a pre-existing (continuing) claim was capable of determining the issue.

Streather and Walsh, the administrators of the deceased’s estate, had brought a claim against Bodker seeking rescission of the pre-emption agreements on the basis that the deceased had been misrepresented and placed under undue influence in entering into the agreements. Two years later, a further claim was brought (while the aforementioned claim was on-going) seeking a declaration as to the meaning of the term “market value” within the pre-emption agreements. They claimed that it should include the value of the property to a purchaser with a special interest. 

Bodker successfully submitted that the administrators were required to bring forward their whole claim in one action and that seeking to run a fresh claim simply to determine the legal meaning of a term which could have been dealt with in the first claim was an abuse of process, as it created a multiplicity of proceedings.

Key points

  • It is a principle in our procedural law that multiplicity of suits should be avoided, as such additional suits dealing expressly (or impliedly) with the same points could be seen as an abuse of process and therefore struck out under CPR 3.4
  • Claimants intending to bring additional claims for relief where an earlier claim is continuing should consider amending their earlier case and, if appropriate, having the second issue decided as a summary issue.