Whether passport order should be varied to allow defendant to attend court hearing in France


The defendant applied to vary an order requiring him to surrender his passport (granted because of his continued failure to comply with his disclosure obligations after a worldwide freezing order was made against him). The defendant had commenced proceedings in France before the claimants had started the English proceedings against him. He claimed he needed his passport in order to attend a court hearing in Paris (failing which, his claim might be dismissed by the French courts).

Hildyard J noted the applicable legal principles for this application – proportionality and the need for the restriction to be necessary (ie it is just and reasonably required to give the fullest effect to the freezing order). In the circumstances of this case, he found that the defendant's "flight risk" was sufficient to warrant refusing suspension of the order. The defendant had offered to travel with a companion (for example his solicitor) who could retain his passport at all times except on presentation to border control. However, the judge held that that would not be sufficient protection: "The proposed stay is overnight when constant supervision might be difficult; and once in France, he could, if determined to do so, travel to Schengen states without a passport".