Whether tort of malicious prosecution of civil proceedings is recognised under English law/doctrine of precedent
The claimant sought damages for the tort of malicious prosecution of civil proceedings against him by the defendant. The defendant argued that English law only recognises the tort of malicious prosecution where the defendant has caused criminal, not civil, proceedings to be brought. Reliance was placed by the defendant on the House of Lords decision in Gregory v Portsmouth City Council. However, the claimant sought to rely on the more recent decision of the Privy Council inCrawford Adjusters v Sagicor General Insurance (see Weekly Update 22/13), which held that there is a tort of malicious prosecution of civil proceedings. Tipples QC has now held as follows:
(1) The House of Lords decision was binding on her. She could only follow Crawford if she was persuaded that, for all practical purposes, it is a "foregone conclusion" that the Supreme Court would eventually follow Crawford if this case is appealed to that level.
(2) She was not so persuaded. The members of the Privy Council are all justices of the Supreme Court. There are 12 justices of the Supreme Court and the decision in Crawford was by a majority of three of the members of the Privy Council and so did not represent a majority of the justices (and there were two very strong dissenting judgments from the other members of the Board). Furthermore, there was no overlap between the constitution of the members of the Privy Council in Crawford with the members of the Appellate Committee in Gregory.
(3) Finally, even if she had not been bound by Gregory, the judge said that she was still bound by a further decision – the Court of Appeal decision in Quartz Hill v Eyre  – which held that there was an exception to the general position where there is a petition to wind up a company. In reaching that decision, the Court of Appeal had not held that the tort of malicious prosecution was generally available in civil proceedings.