February 6, 2023

Axiom case exposes dysfunctional English Court system

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david-feature-small-v2By David Marchant   From OffshoreAlert

British authorities rarely fail to disappoint me by demonstrating how third world their country is whenever I try to obtain information for an investigation into financial wrongdoing.

Incompetence, inefficiency, ignorance, unhelpfulness, and painstaking slowness are what I have come to expect over the years. Yes, there are some exceptions, but normally the process is like pulling teeth, where civil servants go out of their way to avoid providing information I am legally entitled to. It’s as if they take pride in being obstructionist and useless. It’s the British way – and I say that as a Brit.

The latest example was the extraordinary lengths that I and my London-based researcher had to go to in order to obtain documents from the London High Court concerning a complaint for fraud that was filed last year by the Receivers of Cayman-domiciled Axiom Legal Financing Fund against fraudster Timothy Schools, who swindled investors out of more than £100 million.

Our first attempt to obtain documents in the case was made on August 6¸ 2013. They finally arrived more than five months later on January 20, 2014. In between were countless telephone calls, emails, and excuses from court employees.

Part of the problem, as is often the case in Britain, lies in Pythonesque laws written by attorneys and passed by legislators who are clearly lacking in the smarts department, notwithstanding any titles and letters they might have before and after their names, like Sir, Lord, Lady, QC, or, my personal favorites, The Hon. and The Rt. Hon. (often used by the least honorable individuals you’ll ever come across).

I found out that, for cases filed after October 2, 2006, section 5.4(c) of the Civil Procedure Rules allows any member of the public to obtain copies of various case documents, including particulars of claim, defense, reply, and further information provided by the parties, without requiring any special permission from the court and without giving notice to the parties. There’s a catch, however. For reasons best known to the fools who wrote this rule, acknowledgements of service must first be filed with the court by all of the parties. If not, all bets are off and you’re entitled to diddly.

In the Tim Schools case, even after I was tipped off by a source in mid-December that all acknowledgements of service had been filed with the court, a court employee still insisted they hadn’t been and I had to argue with her in a telephone call before she did a U-turn in mid-conversation and was forced to acknowledge that they had. It still took another month for the documents to arrive and – even then – they were incomplete.

Remarkably, among the documents that I eventually received was a letter to the court marked “URGENT” from The Law Society of England and Wales – which is pursuing its own case against Schools – complaining that the court’s personnel had failed to provide it with documents even though The Law Society had obtained a court order requiring their production. In short, the court’s personnel had failed to comply with a production order issued by a judge. That’s how incompetent they are.

Compare all of the above with the system in the United States where, for many years, any member of the public with Internet access can follow cases filed at federal bankruptcy, civil, criminal and appeals courts on a blow-by-blow basis online, viewing entire docket sheets and downloading documents – all for minimal cost. Within seconds, you can download anything and everything about a case. Total, healthy transparency that leaves you with a warm tingly feeling in your stomach at how painless and rewarding the experience was.

The documents eventually provided to me in the Tim Schools case also show how weak British justice is, compared with that in the US.

For example, why wasn’t Schools jailed for contempt of court for lying in an affidavit of asset disclosure in which he failed to disclose a substantial asset that he concealed using structures in the Marshall Islands? The Receivers caught him out and the feeble excuse from Schools – who is a pathological liar – was that his lack of disclosure was based on a “misunderstanding” that was “influenced by the pressures to which he was subject, his own health and the aggressive stance being taken by the Claimants’ solicitors”.

At or around the same time that Schools was pleading poor health to the London judge, he was taking part in competitive cycling races in Canada where, in one race, he finished 13th out of 609 competitors, whizzing around the 96-mile course in an impressive time of four hours, 40 minutes, 19.2 seconds – just 2.7 seconds behind the winner who was many years younger than him.

If this sort of nonsense had happened in the USA, a judge may have jailed Schools for contempt of court for an indeterminate amount of time. In the dysfunctional, soft, and criminal-friendly judicial system that exists in England, however, Schools has apparently escaped any punishment.

The British like to think their judicial system is the finest in the world. It’s the sort of delusion that explains why it is so poor and why it is unlikely to change any time soon. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

For more on this story go to: http://www.offshorealert.com/london-court-system-and-british-justice-sucks.aspx

 

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