A Warning for Both Solicitors and Litigants in Person

The High Court has determined that a solicitor should not have permitted an affidavit where the deponent described himself as “A DISCIPLE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST” to be sworn before him.

In Nowak & Anor v Residential Tenancies Board [1] the first applicant swore an affidavit where he described himself as “A DISCIPLE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST”.

The Central Office of the High Court refused to permit the affidavit to be filed on the grounds that it did not comply with the relevant rules of court.

Mr Justice Humphreys held that this was a fanciful description and that: “It is hard to know which the applicant’s affidavit trivialises more, religion or court procedure.”

The judge continued: “The solicitor who took it should not have allowed it to be sworn in that form. I trust that the message will get through in order to avoid a repetition.”

The proceedings were dismissed as frivolous and vexatious on other grounds.

Comment

This will be a welcome development for many lawyers, bankers and insolvency practitioners, who are all too familiar with documents bearing fanciful descriptions such as:

  • freeman of the land;
  • general executor and trustee of Joe Bloggs;
  • a natural man.

Such descriptions often indicate the style of the content as a whole.

It would appear that there is now a good basis for:

  • the Central Office to refuse to allow such documents to be filed; and
  • lawyers to object to the admission of such documents in court.

Moreover, while there is no general duty on solicitors to examine the detail of affidavits, it would appear that they should examine at least the first paragraph as well as the jurat before permitting an affidavit to be sworn before them.