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IN THE NOTTINGHAM COUNTY COURT

Case No. 3YK08479

60 Canal Street

Nottingham

Nottinghamshire

NG1 7EJ

Thursday, 31st July 2014

before

HIS HONOUR JUDGE GODSMARK

BRITISH GAS

– v –

JOHN KENNETH BROWNE

 

Transcript from a recording by Ubiqus

61 Southwark Street, London SE1 0HL

Tel: 020 7269 0370

MR BALDING appeared on behalf of the CLAIMANT

MR BROWNE appeared IN PERSON

MR MAYFIELD appeared as a MCKENZIE FRIEND on behalf of MR BROWNE

———

PROCEEDINGS

———

 

JUDGE GODSMARK: Good morning, gentlemen. I think I have Mr Browne in person?

MR BROWNE: You have.

JUDGE GODSMARK: With, is it Mr Mayfield?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: A McKenzie friend?

MR BROWNE: With Your Honour’s permission.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And Mr Balding?

MR BALDING: Your Honour, yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Let me start with Mr Mayfield’s position. I know from the papers that I have read in this case already that you have been involved in this before, Mr Mayfield, so you know what the role of a McKenzie friend is and is not?

MR MAYFIELD: Well, I’ve been trained as a solicitor. I’m a former law costs draftsman, I’m a Fellow of the Association of [inaudible].

JUDGE GODSMARK: That is helpful, but you know that you cannot be an advocate?

MR MAYFIELD: Indeed, Your Honour, yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, and so I simply spell that out at the start of these proceedings. As I say, I know from the transcripts that I have seen that it is not a role you have sought to play in the past, but your role is to assist with paperwork and perhaps a quiet word with Mr Browne as and when appropriate.

MR MAYFIELD: Well, exactly.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Now, Mr Browne, these are your four applications?

MR BROWNE: Yes, indeed, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: There are two applications relating to appeals and there are two applications which are self-standing, as it were. The appeals relate to the order of District Judge Hale from last December and also Deputy District Judge Roberts. The applications are firstly to transfer all of this litigation away from here, preferably to London.

MR BROWNE: That is very important.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And thirdly an application, fourthly, an application to strike out these proceedings. We have also had joining matters, as it were, an application in relation to the proceedings that you have now commenced against Moon Beever.

MR BROWNE: That was a short-listed job. It was never meant to be heard at this time.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, it may be convenient for it to be heard at this time, but I am going to put that to the back of the queue. We are going to deal with that at the end of everything else. But I want to explain to you one thing, first of all, Mr Browne. You may know it already so forgive me if I am telling you something that you are already aware of. Appeal hearings, they are not re-hearings. It is not a question of starting all over again with fresh submissions and hoping you get a different result. Appeal hearings are reviews of the decision of the judge below and so what any appellate judge is doing on an appeal is to look at that decision, how it was reached and one is looking for an error in law or for you to persuade me that a District Judge in this case came to a conclusion that he was not entitled to come to. It is not a question of me looking at it and deciding, well would I have done something different? It is a question of looking at the decision and saying, ‘We need to identify something that was wrong with that decision, part of how that decision came to be made.’

So with that distinction, do you understand the distinction, Mr Browne?

MR BROWNE: I totally understand, Your Honour.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Good.

MR BROWNE: In other words, what you’re saying is in effect that the decision of the judge may have been correct.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, what I am saying is that just because I might have come to a different view and made a different decision, does not mean that the appeal succeeds. If there is an error of law that we can identify that is one thing. But the other thing that we are looking at is to see how the District Judge reached his decision and whether he took into account things that he ought not to have taken into account or did not take into account things that he ought to have taken into account. So for that purpose, looking at appeals it is important to look at the transcripts. But we have got those so we can look at them.

MR BROWNE: An incomplete set.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I noted that, particularly in relation to the, in relation to the hearing before District Judge Hale and I have seen that your account is that the transcript starts after the hearing had commenced.

MR BROWNE: Indeed, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So I looked at that and it troubled me as well, so I have listened to the tape and it starts where the transcript starts.

MR BROWNE: How can that be right, Sir?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well-

MR BROWNE: I mean, I am relying on the transcript because at the beginning of the actual hearing District Judge Hale turned around, sniggered at me and said, ‘I know you from before.’ But that’s missing from the tape and another time twice in that particular tape he’s mentioned this again.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Those-

MR BROWNE: Why-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -those references we have got.

MR BROWNE: -they show me bias from the word go.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Just a minute, Mr Browne. What I am telling you is, having seen your concerns about the incomplete elements of the transcript, I have taken the trouble to track down the DVD, the recording that is taken, it starts where it starts. The first, first word, it starts with silence actually, with a few, I can hear pages being turned and if I understand the position from your own submissions, the first questions on the transcript refer to the judge having just read your skeleton argument and you asking him whether he had read it. So that seems to be what the silence is at the outset. But there is nothing which I would normally hear on the tape where the parties come into the room and introduce themselves.

MR BROWNE: Your Honour, he never looked at my skeleton argument, never mind anything else.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that is something that you can develop before me in due course, but having, all I am saying is that, having seen your concerns about what is recorded, I have myself checked that what is on the transcript is all that is on here, and it is. Now, you may say that other things happen, that is fine.

MR BROWNE: Is there an explanation for that? In other words, did he turn it off deliberately?

JUDGE GODSMARK: That I am in the dark as to. All I know is that I have checked the transcript against the recording, and can I say, it is the recording for that day, it is not the recording, this contains all of the cases that were heard that day. There were two cases listed in front of yours, one was a telephone conference and that is recorded by British Telecom so that would not be on here anyway. The other one was an oral examination. There is no, no tape relating to that at all but what I can say is that very frequently in the County Court people do not turn up for oral examinations. So it is possible that your case was the first one that District Judge Hale had live before him that day.

MR BROWNE: Can I, can I say, Sir, can I understand that what you’re going to do then, you’re going to take this in the order that you’ve got them on the list? In other words, Hale first, Roberts second, strike out third, no, strike out, well, transfer third and strike out fourth?

JUDGE GODSMARK: I will take them, Mr Browne, in any way that you feel you want to present them, because there is an element of interconnectedness between them because you say the thread of judicial bias runs through the two decisions against which you appeal. So how you present this to me I leave entirely to you and I am happy to deal with it in any way that you want to present it.

MR BROWNE: Well I did send you a letter on this point, Sir, but we never got a reply. What I’d like to make at this moment, Sir, if I may, is a statement regarding the whole issue. I would ask first of all that what I am saying be recorded.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Just let me do a volume test. Yes, it is, I can see the, see the little lights on my machine running up and down now.

MR BROWNE: Thank you very much.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So everything is on and working.

MR BROWNE: Your Honour, this has been a marathon and the course of this marathon lies squarely with British Gas and Moon Beever. They first of all, this started in 2007 and it’s still unresolved. The blame for this fiasco lies squarely, fairly and squarely with British Gas and Moon Beever. I intend to show this to be the case; it’s manifestly obvious that BG and Moons have abused the process and are guilty of perverting the course of justice, influencing the judiciary as they are solicitors, as was DJ Hale, as is DJ Roberts.

British dragged this matter on for seven years by charging me two to three times the going rate and then refused to let me go to a cheaper supplier. Now, that in itself is an indictment. All my correspondence at this time was with Bentley, he was the managing director of British Gas. I advised many times that BG should make a claim in the small claims court. That’s going back years. They’ve never done it. However, when Bentley instructed Moon Beever I was released immediately. I think that is significant. Were they acting illegally? I happily changed supplier. Later, Bentley was sacked and at last action was taken against me in the courts.

Upon replying to the claim an order was issued by DJ Millard giving directions and a timetable. I complied immediately with these directions but Moon Beever did not and they should be asked the question, did they obey the order or carry out the instructions of DJ Millard or not? Because the whole operation, right up to here, right now, stems from that point, because I had to make an application. Later, upon applying, yes, I was immediately, I complied immediately with the directions of DJ Millard. I was then forced to make an application requiring Moon Beever to do the same. Unfortunately, this application was heard by DJ Hale who would make sure I did not win. I have to say at this point, Sir, this is not the first time I’ve appeared before DJ Hale as he, he remarked during the transcript. The last time was another fiasco. I didn’t do anything about it. Had Moon Beever complied with the order there would be no need to appear here today and waste the time of the Courts.

Your Honour will have seen the media attention, have seen the media attention demonstrating the bad conduct of British Gas and there-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I think the latest is this morning, is it not, Mr Browne?

MR BROWNE: Sorry?

JUDGE GODSMARK: The latest is this morning, is it not?

MR BROWNE: I was about to tell you that, Sir. I have got this here where all of a sudden they’re making no profits. I think they have very good creative accountants. I think we’ve never had a mild summer in our lives. This is what appears in this Times this morning.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I saw it.

MR BROWNE: Make big profits. I believe they, they think they are superior to everybody. I have tried very hard in the early stages, I have written numerous letters asking them to come, ‘Let’s try and resolve this issue. Let’s find out what the problem is and let’s get stuck into it.’ They don’t want to know. They just keep on sending me debt collectors’ harassment letters, they even came to the Magistrates’ Court here and got an order, you know, and then they sent the bailiffs round. Why don’t they come and talk to me? Why don’t we try and settle this? No, no, they’re too arrogant, be honest. Where was I?

Yes. These proceedings, oh yes, and there is a public enquiry taking place right now where British Gas, it’s possible for British Gas to split up altogether and I say on television this morning they’ve lied. They’ve lied and lied again; they’ve been doing it to me for years. Yes, if not, they should be, yes, these proceedings, as a result of that, these proceedings should be struck out. If not, they should be stayed pending the result of the public enquiry. I do not see how the Court can make a decision as to the issues in this matter until the same issues within the public enquiry have been decided and they’re all the same, basically.

Well, you already know I’m accompanied by my, by my McKenzie friend and I’ve also got my solicitor, my secretary to help me out here as well. I’ve put a little addition in here. ‘In relation to the appeal against Hale and as noted within the order of Your Honour dated 23/12 some determination of an application dated 16th’ and that should have been made, ‘the claimant was well out of time for compliance with the earlier directions [of the email?] and my application was therefore valid.’ In other words, it seems to me, Sir, that they can do what they like and every time they ask for something from the Court they get it. Every time I ask for something from the Court, it’s refused. Your Honour, all of the applications that appear before you were made at different times and I’d expected them to be heard at different times. However, in order to disadvantage me, a litigant in person, all these matters are now to be listed at the same time. That disadvantages me, Sir, in no uncertain terms. I’ve already sent you a letter stating I’m a litigant in person and I am also of an age which I feel quite capable of coping with one at a time. I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne, I looked at that and it struck me that all of your applications are actually interrelated and they cannot really be heard separately because what affects one will affect the other, which is why I decided we would do everything together.

MR BROWNE: Sir, Your Honour, well, I’ll just continue.

JUDGE GODSMARK: By all means.

MR BROWNE: To this determination by the Court to disadvantage me and I request that I be granted 30 minutes between each section and, between the application and appeals, in order to assess my case and consider my position.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I tell you what we will do, Mr Browne.

MR BROWNE: Can I just finish this, Sir?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, by all means.

MR BROWNE: I want it to be on the tape. It must be noted that this matter cannot be held in Nottingham, period, full-stop. I have been involved in litigation going all the way to the CAC in which I was successful. This was despite hearings before other judges sitting in the County Court, this County Court. I have a CAC order against DJ Reeson that he refused to obey. I firstly call the CAC to enforce their own order. Yes, Reeson deceives the CAC by saying he does not know what it’s all about. He lied. The hearing was abandoned; I requested a warrant from the Sheffield County Court to enforce the order. It was refused. I then issued a small claim in the Nottingham County Court; DJ Oliver struck it out. He struck out an order of the Court of Appeal. So clearly he’s not on my side. He eventually, after pressure, he rescinded this order and sent the matter to Sheffield. Before DJ Bower who took two hearings, Sheffield and Doncaster, to side with Reeson. Appeal to His Honour Judge Bentley who struck it out. Then before Her Honour Judge Shipley who took two hearings to side with Reeson. Now, if this isn’t prejudice, Sir, what the hell is it? Now, I can prove all this. This is not something I’ve made up along the way.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Can you help me with one thing? Can you tell me when this was?

MR BROWNE: Yes, I can. I can give you chapter and verse on it, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: The year was-

MR BROWNE: Can I just finish, if I may, the, how this thing went badly wrong?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mm-hmm.

MR BROWNE: Then before DJ Hale, DJ McHale in Leicester who again finds against me in the matter of Middleton. I hired Middleton to actually do a cost schedule for me and I paid her £1,000 to do it and all she did was side with Reeson. She wanted me to go away. She made all sorts of, eventually I had to sack her and I had to produce my own bill of costs. I am currently trying to get a transcript of that hearing because DJ Hale, DJ McHale it turns out, turns out to be a big friend of DJ Reeson. Am I being got at or not?

In the case of DJ Hale who I never saw before in my life, in the case of myself against CDS culminated to me that I’ve spent a lot of time in this Court, maliciously. The case went on to take two hearings to find against me. The defendant turned up at hearing number one with no evidence as it was back in their office. Normally, Sir, the matter would have been handed to me, just like that. No. DJ Hale, the case was adjourned to allow this evidence to be produced which later the evidence was an unsupported chronology. DJ Hale said he believed it and found against me. I must not be allowed to win. I was not allowed to win.

At the next hearing DJ Hale, it was taken in early. The usher showed us in as she had to unlock the door. However, when we were admitted BG was already in and sitting with his books and papers placed on the table. As I walked into court he stated that he knew me from before, maliciously.

Missing from the transcript, that was missing from the transcript. He stated that again in the proceedings that, it is in the transcript, page 23 line 18 and again at page 31 he remembered me again.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: ‘It is a rule that when a complainant solicitor instructs a barrister it is a rule that they should inform the defendant that they’re going to do that. In effect, Moon Beever are flouting the rules. It must be noted that when the BG barrister arrived at the Court he was seen to enter the court of DJ Hale. Later, he was seen to leave the room and go to the usher to announce his arrival. When he had done this he approached me and we had a confrontation. I noted that he did not have a briefcase with him or papers on him at the time. I found this strange. Clearly they were already before DJ Hale in his chambers. At this point I left the waiting room, the case was called early and we were shown to the door by the usher, as she had to unlock the door and she had to open it. Upon entering the Court BG[?] was already in the room, had all his papers laid out including the large White Book. It now appears that the BG barrister, who was Nottingham-based, was at least an acquaintance if not a friend or professional colleague of DJ Hale.

This is just another reason on top of the DJ Reeson Court of Appeal judgment and the fact that I am a litigant in person. Just another example of Lord Woolf’s comments; Lord Woolf still sits in the House of Lords, comments in his, ‘Interim access to justice,’ June 1995 at paragraph seven, chapter 17, ‘The situation is made worse for them, litigants in person if they have tried to understand and comply with the rules only to find that the rules are flouted by lawyers and effectively condoned by the courts.’ I suggest, no, that has still to come. Yes, I think so.

I’ll just finish this little bit. I suggest you strike out the claim and BG can then appeal to the CAC and if granted the matter can be dealt with by a Circuit judge in the Central County Court at last. In my submission, the proceedings should have been transferred, is that the one? Oh yes, I’ve got it, yes. In my submission the proceedings have been, should have been transferred to the Central County Court in any event. Should the claimant object to this, I am upon, I call upon them to give a reason why. They are based in London and they are only a short walk from the Central County Court, that’s where their offices are. But they object, they don’t want it to go down there. Why? Why don’t they want it? They get such favourable treatment here, that’s why. There is no prejudice to the claimant in this, especially having regard to the fact that their solicitors are London-based.

I have been saying all along, Sir, if you’ve taken a look at any of the bundles, I don’t, I no longer feel I will receive justice in Nottingham and I have proof of that and if you want me to show you the order of the, of the Court of Appeal, Sir, I will be happy to show you. I’ve got it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Can I, can I help you to this extent, Mr Browne? Perhaps I should have explained it earlier. This hearing, as you probably saw, was listed for two days, originally.

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, it has always been listed for two days. That is because I wanted one day to read, so I spent yesterday reading your five bundles that you have filed, various appeal letters that you have written, the full file from the hearings which has got on it, for example, and I think what you have sent, the laminated order from the Court of Appeal to which you have referred me, so I have got that. I have read the skeleton arguments, I have read the transcripts, I have had a look at the evidence that British Gas has filed. You can take it as read that I can see that your complaint is that you had no contract with British Gas, that when you kept trying to point this out to them, they kept ignoring you.

MR BROWNE: Right.

JUDGE GODSMARK: That you tried to terminate your contract with British Gas-

MR BROWNE: And they ignored-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -that as well, and that you say that they have been grossly over‑charging you-

MR BROWNE: Definitely.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -without any basis for doing so.

MR BROWNE: Correct.

JUDGE GODSMARK: That is your case.

MR BROWNE: But you are-

JUDGE GODSMARK: And I hope I do not, forgive me for summarising it so shortly, but it means that this case, this litigation is about contractual terms. It is about what was agreed, what the terms of the agreement are and what can and cannot be charged under that agreement.

MR BROWNE: I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: And as you have said yourself, that is getting lost along the way.

MR BROWNE: That is always first in my mind, Sir, and I’ve pointed it out many, many, many times to British Gas, ‘There is no, if you’ve got some sort of contract that you say I’ve agreed to, please produce it.’ But they don’t.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, I have seen that.

MR BROWNE: And also they, as well, Sir, that, are they really saying that I agreed to pay two to three times the going rate? They’re lying.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that is for determination at a trial, if we get that far. But what I am simply trying to indicate to you at the moment is I spent, I set yesterday aside to read into this, which I have done. So a lot of what you are telling me, I am not going to stop you from saying it for a minute, does not come as news because I have seen it already, but that is fine. You want to make sure that I know. I know.

Can I go back to three questions: you were talking about hearings relating to the, the recent litigation, if I can call it that, in front of District Judge Oliver and then up in Sheffield in front of Bower-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -and then Judges Bentley and Shipley.

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Can you tell me what years they took place in?

MR BROWNE: What years they were?

JUDGE GODSMARK: In what years were those hearings?

MR BROWNE: Oh-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Because the Court of, the original Court of Appeal order-

MR BROWNE: Yes. I knew you’d ask me a question I don’t[?]-

[Crosstalk]

JUDGE GODSMARK: -I have got has been-

MR BROWNE: -immediate answer for-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -the original Court of Appeal was 1995.

MR BROWNE: I’ve got it in one of those other documents there; I’ve got all the details. I’m not quite sure, let me have a look, I think it’s that one. Yes, I think it’s that one.

[Discussion sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: In actual fact, I haven’t got the order. The orders of, I’ve got the order of the Court of Appeal.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, are we-

MR BROWNE: I’ll tell you what-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -is that this one, the laminated one that I have got?

MR BROWNE: Yes, I think it is, Sir. I laminated it for a reason.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, what I gleaned from that is that there had been a hearing with liberty to apply on 28th June 1995.

MR BROWNE: That’s right.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And that this order made before Potter LJ, Tuckey LJ and Hart J I think under that liberty to apply provision.

MR BROWNE: Is that right?

JUDGE GODSMARK: This order I think is 2003, so I just want to try and get an idea of when these things that you are talking about happened. It looks as if-

MR BROWNE: Well, that’s what-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -between 1995 and 2003.

MR BROWNE: I’ve got a copy here, quite honestly, of the judgment before Potter LJ, Tuckey LJ and Hart J and-

JUDGE GODSMARK: It is just-

MR BROWNE: -I’ve got their judgment.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that may tell me something of the chronology.

MR BROWNE: It goes back, the other judge involved in that was His Honour Judge Bullimore who, there is a grim determination to shoot me down, no matter what the evidence.

JUDGE GODSMARK: But am I right in thinking, Mr Browne, that this voyage through the judiciary that you undertook-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -must have occurred between 1995 and 2003?

MR BROWNE: Yes. Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: That’s correct.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Now the second thing I want to raise with you, you mentioned it earlier, that you wanted a break between each of the applications.

MR BROWNE: Basically yes, so that we can-

JUDGE GODSMARK: What I suggest we do, we will work through things and if you need a break at any stage to have a chat with Mr Mayfield or to think about what has been said, we will take it at that stage. It may be that you will need 10 minutes here and maybe you will need half an hour there. If you let me know, I will try and fit in with you.

MR BROWNE: Can I just ask you another question, Sir? Are we going to take it in correct order? Like, for instance, the first application is to strike out.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I will take it in any order that you want to present it, Mr Browne.

MR BROWNE: That’s the way I would like to do it, Sir. Purely and simply on the grounds that the application will be very detailed, I would think and it, the claim’s quite truthfully that Moon Beever and British Gas are both out of order. Why, when they started in 2007-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne, I suggest you make-

MR BROWNE: -I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -I suggest you start the applications or start with submissions you want to make and just-

MR BROWNE: -I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -tell me which one you are going to deal with-

MR BROWNE: Strike out.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Strike out? Let us start with that. So the strike out application which is the one dated 27th January?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: What do you want to say about that?

MR BROWNE: Well, basically, Sir, their behaviour is unreasonable. I mean, I can’t, which of course is condoned by all the judges I’ve been before. Why do they pay, I think it’s important that I tell you what exactly happened, Sir, because between 2007 and 2009 I was appealing to British Gas because I thought I was dealing with a reputable organisation who would respond to a customer’s complaint and endeavour to deal with it and resolve it. But what did I get? They ignored me. They kept on pressurising me and so on, and I couldn’t, I couldn’t figure out what else I could do so when I got to 2009 and we still were getting nowhere in, in replying to my, he[?] was told actually at one point by somebody on the phone that we don’t reply to customers’ complaints. Well, what can I do? I couldn’t think of anything to do but what I did was I found out what the going rate was and I decided to pay that instead of their requirement. Firstly, they kept all my cheques for ages and they didn’t, they didn’t cash them and they said they weren’t going to cash them, and they kept on raising a bill as if I hadn’t paid them. As far as I was concerned I paid every invoice and I thought that would get a response from British Gas and we would solve this problem, one way or another. Preferably in the County Court, but unfortunately they weren’t interested in doing that.

Now, the interesting part was that when Moon Beever was instructed by Bentley, I was released immediately without any restriction whatsoever. Why? After they had held me out to ransom for so long, why did they decide to do it now? But in due course and I don’t know the reason for this but Bentley was sacked and I was immediately, took court action against me, at last. I was quite happy about that because I felt, and I still do, that the behaviour of British Gas was unacceptable in this world and in this market. They’re leaders of a cartel and I think this has been proved over and over again. I even sent you quite a bit of stuff, Sir, regarding this.

JUDGE GODSMARK: That is in one of the folders-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -is it number two?

MR BROWNE: That’s right, yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: And we come here in July, and I couldn’t have made this up, this came on the computer and there’s loads more, other complaints against him. They say that they’re, that their profits are damned. They lied, and this is the way they’ve been throughout and even when it comes down to Moon Beever why could they not obey the order of DJ Millard? If they had of done, we wouldn’t be here right now and the matter could have been resolved a year ago. But in other words, they are basically what they’re doing is they’re trying to financially kill me off so that I give up on the whole issue, and I’m telling them now I’m not going to do that. I don’t care where I’ve got to go, but as you know yourself, Your Honour, and I say this, unhappily say this, that there is no justice for me in Nottingham. And that’s the point. If we want to go back to the previous time I appeared before DJ Hale, why is he picking on me? Why don’t I get a different judge? Anyway, I think he picks me out and the previous one, like I said before, in fact I’ve got the order from the previous case, when he found, he couldn’t possibly, he ignored all the evidence, he ignored my application, they just found in favour of the other side. I am flabbergasted. At that time or the previous one, I knew that I could have appealed that order, but I didn’t because I was busy doing other things and it was a minor matter anyway. But nevertheless I remember it now. And if that’s gone-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne-

MR BROWNE: -my case-

JUDGE GODSMARK: My Browne-

MR BROWNE: -tell me, what is?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Forgive me for a second. You have now started to talk about the hearing in front of District Judge Hale.

MR BROWNE: Yes, sorry. Okay. I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I mean, I said, I am happy, I say I will deal with this any way you want to but if you want to deal with them one at a time-

MR BROWNE: I’m happy, what I’m doing now is I’m using that as an excuse to create a strike out. That’s what I’m doing. I’m saying the behaviour of these people, including DJ Hale, was the determination to see me off, and that is the truth, Sir, and if you feel that, the way I feel, the way I look at it is if for instance you did agree to a strike out, let’s say you did, it’s, it appears to me that British Gas in their determination would appeal that decision. That’s pretty obvious. Now, this way we would then get the matter back to London and we would deal with it there and I’d be happy to do, even if I go to the court down in London and they find in favour of these people, then so be it. The Court of Appeal is my final operation and I feel that I get no justice here. I am ostracised, kicked into touch at every opportunity. I appreciate the fact, Your Honour, that litigants in person are not generally particularly welcome in front of DJs. But I’ve always accepted that point, but I didn’t expect to get the treatment I’m getting, you know, when I get malicious treatment from the judges. Even, DDJ Roberts, he comes across at me as, well, belligerent and DJ Hale at that previous hearing he spent all his time bullying me.

But anyway, getting back to it, I’m putting this as a reason why they should be struck out and we should start again basically. I think that is the best way forward, instead of having all these interlocutories and the extra ones, I have to make out a case; I can’t just accept what they were doing. I have to make out a case against what they are saying, and if it’s a case that you’re going to make judgment regarding, oh yes, yes, I don’t, you know, I don’t know whether you’re aware of this or not, Sir, but they were ordered by DJ, yes, Sir, I’ve got to remember this, when this business started out at the beginning, like and when the claim was made against me they somehow or another short-circuit the system. I don’t know how they did that and they, it was a very short listing and they wanted the whole thing dealt with in the two weeks, in a week or so. I didn’t think that was possible unless they have an influence that I don’t know about. Normally the situation is you put in your claim, you get the response back saying you object to it and then you get a judge taking a look at it, issues directions and after it’s been satisfied and all the rest of it. Then a hearing is set down.

But no, it seems like not necessarily for Moon Beever. Don’t really need to do that and this is why I’m saying that the rules were broken across the board and that as a result it was always done to disadvantage me and kick me into touch, basically, and I don’t think this is right, Sir, and neither is it justice either and I am not being treated as an equal in the courts. I mean, if you just take the HRA which I don’t necessarily approve of, but it sets out there I’m entitled to the protection of the courts, and I’m also entitled to a fair hearing before an impartial judge, and I’m sorry, Sir, but I think I’m not getting this.

On the contrary, I’m being given the opposite treatment and while I do understand these District Judges, they normally expect to deliver a judgment, everybody goes away. And they are probably quite cross with me because I didn’t, and I’m still, and I intend to fight this all the way to the civil appeals court, if necessary. But I hope it won’t be necessary but if you’re going to make it a judgment on that particular issue, Sir, then we can decide what to do next.

So I’m asking quite truthfully, sincerely, that their claim be struck out as they have disobeyed the rules, they have abused the system, they’ve abused their own power and so have British Gas. And obviously I would be very interested in your judgment on those points.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I just want to make sure I have got this, that I have got my headings right on this. You want me to strike the claim out I think under three headings, if I have analysed this correctly. Firstly because you say British Gas, Moon Beever have disregarded the rules and in particular you are focusing on Judge Millard’s order?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Secondly, you say that they are abusing the system and I think that that you are referring to the way in which the proceedings having initially been issued; there was then I think an application for an extension of time for service of the defence, that that came in later than you expected?

MR BROWNE: Sorry?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, I am trying to get to the bottom of what you say is an abuse of the system.

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And you said that they started off and they tried to short track or short-circuit things-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -and I-

MR BROWNE: When they started out the first, Sir, when they first issued the claim. That’s when they, oh well I have to tell you this as well, Sir, that [inaudible] it was very short-listed. How did they do that? They wanted the hearing in, I don’t know how many days but it wasn’t going to be very long. I was taken by surprise.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I want to understand this. What do you mean by short-listing?

MR BROWNE: Well basically I’m not exactly, but they put the claim in and they wanted the hearing to be heard in a matter of two weeks, I think it was.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well that has not happened, has it?

MR BROWNE: No, and you know why it hasn’t, Sir? Because I objected and I made another application to the Court for, for extra time. That’s why it didn’t happen, because they were out to ambush me, there’s no question about it. I mean, having actually asked the, them to tape-record numerous times over a, over a period of five years, then all of a sudden they do it. And now they want this heard in a matter of days.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Now the third heading I have got under this is, the way I have noted it is ‘customer service’. You say that British Gas has treated you appallingly.

MR BROWNE: Oh, absolutely.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And-

MR BROWNE: Why wouldn’t they deal with me?

JUDGE GODSMARK: So that was-

MR BROWNE: I was told that-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -that they were making exorbitant profits.

MR BROWNE: Exactly.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And that I should take that into account when considering whether this is a proper claim to be brought?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So have I got that in a nutshell?

MR BROWNE: I think so, except I think, I must elaborate a little bit on the, on the business of when I made the application for extra time. A hearing was arranged and it was going to be a telephone hearing, but before that hearing could take place Moon Beever backed down. They were asked by the way originally in a letter to actually allow a little bit more time, and they said, ‘No’. So I made the application and the hearing was arranged. Now that application cost £274, £272, right, and the first item on the DJ Millard’s order was that they should pay me, they agreed to pay me half, but it never came. They agreed to pay me half and they allowed the extra time. Now, why couldn’t they have done that in the first place? But they had to be forced into it all the time. They have to be forced into everything. And that’s why I have to make so many applications, because otherwise they’re going to run over me like a bus. And at that point in time they agreed to pay but didn’t, and it was ordered by DJ Millard that they should pay it. Yes. Yes, that they should pay it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: That was paragraph one of his original order?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, I saw that.

MR BROWNE: But they didn’t pay it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Not until very late.

MR BROWNE: They were 99 days late, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, I have seen that.

MR BROWNE: You know, and then they, now, what sort of behaviour is this, on behalf of solicitors? They think they’re so damned arrogant, they think they can walk over me with a bulldozer and I have no chance, and I’ve been informed as well by them I’m really not able to understand what’s going on, they say. But they, that’s a bloody lie and I understand exactly what’s going on, and, but they try to intimidate, harass, put frighteners in and all the rest of it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne, back to the application to strike out.

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Which I think I have got noted down-

MR BROWNE: Oh, could I just add one more thing, Sir? This goes back to the, to the DJ, no, it goes back to the, basically I decided that I would have a witness for the hearing, the substantial hearing when it arrived, when it was set down, and I decided I would have Phil Bentley, MD of British Gas as my witness, my witness. But what happened? As soon as he got the witness summons Phil Bentley absconded to the United States and I paid £170 to him on the witness summons. That £170 has disappeared. Nobody knows where it is, what happened to it or anything, but it should have been repaid to me straightaway, Sir, but they didn’t. They kept it, even beyond the order of DJ Millard. What sort of behaviour is that? I think that’s about it on the strike out.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Thank you. Yes, I will hear Mr Balding on the strike out.

MR BALDING: Your Honour, I’m grateful. Can I just confirm that you want submissions just on the strike out?

JUDGE GODSMARK: I think yes.

MR BALDING: -and the other applications later?

JUDGE GODSMARK: And I know, Mr Balding, that the landscape has changed from the terms of the application.

MR BALDING: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: But are you in a position to deal with the various points that Mr Browne has already articulated to me?

MR BALDING: Your Honour, yes. I will deal with the points that are in the application-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Thank you. I have sorted it under three headings.

MR BALDING: Yes. Just before starting, I think it’s worth emphasising the fact that Mr Browne’s made serious allegations against certain judges involved in the proceedings, these proceedings, particularly District Judge Hale and Deputy District Judge Roberts. It’s a serious thing to accuse a judge of bias and I’d ask Your Honour to bear that in mind when dealing with these applications.

The fact that Mr Browne was unsuccessful on a number of applications does not mean that the judges determining those applications were biased in any way. In relation in particular to this strike out application if I could ask, I don’t know if you received a set of two bundles?

JUDGE GODSMARK: I have, which I have read. Like I say, I have read the skeleton arguments of both sides.

MR BALDING: I’m grateful, Your Honour. If I could ask you to turn to the application notice, dealing with the strike out, you may have-

JUDGE GODSMARK: At 77?

MR BALDING: It’s at, yes, page 77 to 79, and there are letters behind that as well.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I have got that.

MR BALDING: In the application Mr Browne, perhaps before going to that, I’m sure Your Honour’s well aware that under CPR 3.4 a claim is struck out only on three grounds: statement of case, there’s no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim, the statement of case is an abuse of the court process or is otherwise likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings, or there’s been a failure to comply with a rule, practice direction or court document. In my submission, Your Honour, none of those criteria are satisfied.

Now, just looking at the application notice itself, as I said I’ll come on to what Mr Browne said in a moment, there seem to be three grounds on which he asks for this Court to strike out the claim: firstly that Mr Bentley has breached the witness summons that was served on him. Well, in relation to that, that’s not correct. Mr Bentley was not in breach of the witness summons because British Gas ostensibly applied to have the witness summons set aside before the time for Mr Bentley’s attendance at court arrived. The second point that I think Mr Browne makes in his application notice is that Moon Beever improperly acted as Mr Bentley’s solicitors in relation to the witness summons. That argument is also incorrect, Your Honour, Moon Beever did not act for Mr Bentley; they acted for British Gas which was entitled to apply to set aside the witness summons under CPR 34.3(4). In any event, Your Honour, in my submission none of this is of any relevance to the question of whether or not these proceedings should proceed to trial.

Thirdly, in his application notice Mr Browne states that the claim should be struck out because of ‘the general approach to the DJ and the DDJ in dealing with this matter.’ I think that’s a reference to District Judge Hale and Deputy District Judge Roberts. Mr Browne seems to think there was a judicial conspiracy against him in Nottingham. In my submission there’s no basis for that at all and it’s a figment of his imagination. As I said at the outset, Your Honour, the fact that Mr Browne has been unsuccessful in a number of applications does not mean that the judges have been biased. In relation particularly to District Judge Hale, I don’t know if you want me to deal with the allegations in relation to District Judge Hale, the allegation of bias in relation to, the appeal against the order that he made, or to deal with them now?

JUDGE GODSMARK: I am just, I am actually, Mr Balding, thinking of my route four, because this, this application to strike out was termed something of an umbrella application. I dare say I am going to hear more from Mr Browne about what he says took place before District Judge Hale and Deputy District Judge Roberts.

MR BALDING: Your Honour, it may be best if you hear all of the applications and then come to a decision at the end.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I think that may be right, otherwise we are going to end up saying the same thing over and over again. So I think, I think the way we will deal with this, because they are interrelated, Mr Browne-

MR BROWNE: That is quite correct, Sir, but they are individual applications.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: And therefore to be dealt with as individual applications.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Except that-

MR BROWNE: And even if you make-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: -a judgment, Sir-

JUDGE GODSMARK: But the difficulty with that, Mr Browne, is that you have now said that you want to incorporate what happened on 9th December before District Judge Hale into your application to strike out.

MR BROWNE: Only as supporting evidence.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, precisely. So they are linked. You have linked them. So the way I am going to deal with this is I am going to hear all of your applications. If you want a break between one and the other, you will have that. I am then going to hear Mr Balding so that he can make a response. I will then give you an opportunity to have a break and to say anything you want to in reply, and that way I think we will end up dealing with all the various points under all their headings in the most efficient way.

MR BROWNE: Can I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: So that is your evidence. I am sorry?

MR BROWNE: Can I have 15 minutes now, Sir?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: So I’d like to discuss this with my colleague here and then to see exactly what the implications of what you’ve just said.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, you have said, you have made your strike out application. You can certainly have 15 minutes, but what is the next one that we are going to move to?

MR BROWNE: The transfer.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Transfer?

MR BROWNE: Yes. I think that is if, if, this is absolutely, in my book, essential.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right.

MR BROWNE: Basically, this has to be the case. I, I have no confidence whatever. If every time I have had the occasion to visit London, I seem to get a satisfactory hearing and I get a satisfactory result, even not always in my favour exactly. But at least I’d feel as though the matter had been dealt with in a proper manner.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne, you are eating into your own 15 minutes now. Let us take a break, back here 11.40am and then I will listen to you on transfer.

MR BROWNE: Okay.

Court rises.

Court resumes at 11.40am.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right, Mr Browne, transfer.

MR BALDING: Your Honour, just before we start, I don’t know if you want me to address the points that Mr Browne made orally in relation to the strike out?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Not yet. I think we will wait until we get to the end of the four applications.

MR BALDING: Right.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Because there is, as I say, interrelation between them. Yes, transfer, Mr Browne.

MR BROWNE: Yes. I am not asking you to make a judgment one way or the other on judicial bias, let me make that clear. But I do hope, you’ve heard my account and submissions regarding, I notice he never mentioned Reeson, doesn’t want to know about that. But, but if you refer to The White Book the mere suggestion of bias is sufficient to have it transferred.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I am not sure that is right, actually, Mr Browne. You want me to look in The White Book. Do you know where?

MR BROWNE: I don’t off the top of my head. We haven’t got one, basically, we [took one?] from the library, didn’t we-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Balding may be able to help by taking us to the, do you know whereabouts in The White Book, I know you have referred to the appropriate authority, Mr Balding, in your skeleton.

MR BALDING: I’m not sure.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Can you, while you are listening if you could find the appropriate area I would be grateful. Mr Balding may try and find the area for us. I think the test, Mr Browne; there are two parts to it. Firstly if you can demonstrate bias in the sense that you look at the transcript of the hearing and you can say that on the basis of that there is clear bias. There is also another limb to that and it is the independent informed observer test. So if you have got somebody sort of notionally watching who is independent and informed about the position, might things appear biased to that person? That is part of the concept that justice must be seen to be done. So there are two limbs. Is there bias, but even if there is not, does there appear to be bias to an informed independent observer? Mr Balding, have I got that roughly right?

MR BALDING: Your Honour, yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Thank you.

MR BROWNE: Obviously we do have a witness, I have two witnesses but of course you’re going to say they’re not independent. My friend, Paul Mayfield was there, my secretary was also there and they have also made statements to the effect that there was certainly bias in that court. I don’t know if that’s good enough, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, you are right to this extent. They are not independent and it is not a real witness that I need, it is a notional individual so if we take this notional individual who we take to be informed independent, how would that person view what occurred? And in the context of what you say about your dealings with District Judge Reeson.

MR BROWNE: I’m sorry, again?

JUDGE GODSMARK: So that would be in the context of what you say occurred with District Judge Reeson.

MR BROWNE: Yes. Well it could not be, that’s got to be right.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I agree. That is-

MR BROWNE: What-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -part of, that is part of the matrix.

MR BROWNE: I, how can any judicial hearing start with, ‘I know you from before’? How can that be regarded as anything less than bias? He did not say this, in effect; he should have disqualified himself, Sir, Your Honour. As quite truthfully as with District Judge Oliver, he’d already shown me bias and he was also involved in the other cases as well. And I would imagine that, I notice friend next door, he never bothers to mention Reeson, he goes on telling me everything I do is wrong, but he would say that, wouldn’t he? And I don’t agree, but he’s, he’s obviously been given the job of undermining this whole situation before you start, and the fact is that everything I, I can’t lose every case in front of every judge, District Judge, and I, I received aggression from these judges, not just, aggression and it’s in the [inaudible], I mean District Judge Hale made a big deal about the fact that I had received a cheque for this £136 which was 99 days late, and as far as he was concerned he was going to say, ‘That’s it then, isn’t it? You’re paid, aren’t you?’ As much as to say, ‘It doesn’t really matter anymore. And he said it just, he also said it’s in the transcript where he said that he stated that, well you don’t have to obey every part of the order, and I remember saying, ‘Are you saying to me, Your Honour, that you don’t have to obey court orders?’ His reply was, ‘I didn’t say that.’ Well, he damned well did, and, yes, yes, this gentleman here has travelled from London today, right?

MR BALDING: Yes.

MR BROWNE: Why are they objecting to this matter being transferred to London? I would like to know the answer to that.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, Mr Balding may tell us in a minute, but-

MR BROWNE: I would like to see-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -first of all-

MR BROWNE: -it’s the favourable treatment they get here.

JUDGE GODSMARK: It is not a question of, it may not even be a question of objection. At the moment you are saying that you want this transferred because of judicial bias against you in Nottingham, and again if I have got the picture correct, you say that your previous dealings with Judge Reeson have contaminated the local judiciary?

MR BROWNE: Yes, absolutely.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And that they are all backing District Judge Reeson-

MR BROWNE: Vengeance-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -against you? Vengeance.

MR BROWNE: Don’t forget, it’s well to remember, Sir, that the initial issue from the Court of Appeal was that District Judge Reeson should pay me £450. Why didn’t he pay that? It was a direct order but he didn’t do it because he’s using his power and his position to avoid it, even the 450. It ended up costing him. Do you know what it ended up costing him, Your Honour?

JUDGE GODSMARK: I, all I know about this, Mr Browne, is what you have told me. I had no idea of any of it beforehand.

MR BROWNE: £8,000, just short of £8,000. At the end of the day when I got my costs and he was lucky to get away with that. That was, oh yes, even when the Court of Appeal had made the appeal, I had to go to a costs judge. They forced me into that situation as well. Excuse me, Sir.

[Discussion sotto voce]

JUDGE GODSMARK: Sorry.

MR BROWNE: I would like this man to answer the question as to why they object to it going to London.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, the short answer to that, as far as I can see, is that the witnesses are here. You are here, their witness [Susan Toon?] is based in Leicester, so Nottingham is the local court to the dispute.

MR BROWNE: It would be a huge cost saving, Sir, by the whole matter being transferred to London. Of that there is no doubt. I don’t know what this fella’s fee is-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I am not sure that-

MR BROWNE: -but-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -is right.

MR BROWNE: -and his travelling time.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I think it would be much more expensive in London.

MR BROWNE: I, Sir, at least I would feel comfortable there. I no longer feel comfortable in Nottingham. Well, the whole point about it, it’s nearer to the Court, they would be nearer to the Court, the witnesses who would be witnesses, I don’t know what witnesses they’re talking about but they can’t be good witnesses, purely and simply they’re going to get someone to come along who had, who’s something to do with accounts.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Susan Toon, I think her name is.

MR BROWNE: Mm-hmm?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Susan Toon, I think her name is.

MR BROWNE: Yes. She’s only an accountant, she’s only a bookkeeper. What the hell does she know?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that may be a point that you can properly take during the course of the trial, if we get that far.

MR BROWNE: Yes. I, I think the costs saving is also very important and as to why Moon Beever don’t want it transferred to London, it’s amazing. The fact that what I consider to be witnesses with no real authority or any good witness evidence to give, cannot travel down to London. There is a very, and it would be much cheaper. I’m sure this man’s very expensive and he’s come all the way from London today. That’ll be no doubt First Class rail fare and his breakfast and God knows what else. And-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I suspect, Mr Browne, that Mr Balding only wishes that were true.

MR BROWNE: Well, I [inaudible], as far as my experience of barristers, Your Honour, is that they are very expensive.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Let us go back to the judicial bias point, because that is where this really is, is it not?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And you are saying that because you have been involved in litigation against somebody who was a District Judge in this Court, that that infects all of the other judiciary-

MR BROWNE: It must do, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -and that they are siding with him, well using your words, and are out for vengeance against you.

MR BROWNE: Yes. That’s right.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And if-

MR BROWNE: I sense it when I walk into the Court, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And, if I have got the point correctly, this notional informed independent observer knowing about the Reeson background, would think to themselves, ‘This does not look right, that these judges should be trying a case involving Mr Browne when he’s been involved in litigation against one of their number.’

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And the independent informed observer might think, ‘That looks biased to me.’ Now, again, what I am trying to do is encapsulate what I think your case is, but tell me if I am wrong or if you want to add anything to it.

MR BROWNE: Well, all I can say, Sir, I, there’s no reason for these judges to be biased against me except the Reeson and the fact that I’m a litigant in person. There’s no reason for it, and there’s no need for the aggression and the determination to shoot me down. You have even mentioned in one of your orders, Your Honour, about the fact that my application wasn’t even addressed before DJ Hale, and it wasn’t. He was more concerned with the application, the retaliatory application from the other side, and it’s in this order here. I’d just like to read it to you. You probably have got it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Is that my order of, is it 23rd December?

MR BROWNE: Yes. It’s silent about my application. Totally silent. And they then go, as you say, he felt he made no determination. Why? He didn’t award me any costs either. And I should have costs for that occasion. And as a matter of fact-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I have given you permission to appeal on that.

MR BROWNE: Yes, well, you have, so therefore, but the very fact that he never addressed my application in his order is significant. He most likely took that because he wasn’t even interested. He kicked my skeleton argument; he took one look at it and pushed it to one side. Well-

JUDGE GODSMARK: This is where we need to look at the transcript again, is it not, Mr Browne? Because you say that he was not interested in your order. In fact if you look at the transcript, there is quite a bit of discussion about your application.

MR BROWNE: Well, does he make a decision about it?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, I think he has, has he not? He said there is no point making an order because you have already had disclosure before the Court hearing.

MR BROWNE: Oh yes, Sir, he did, but the thing is this. It was late; he seemed to disregard that as unimportant. That was exactly my case and I said to him, ‘I can’t believe this.’

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, I understand that that is the case that you were running in front of District Judge Hale.

MR BROWNE: And even though he is saying it’s been, he did try and say it’s resolved now, yes, he did.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And to a certain extent-

MR BROWNE: And-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -we are also getting this mixture now, are we not, between the appeal and the application of bias which I say is inevitable and I understand how that will come up.

MR BROWNE: I am trying to get transferred out of here. I was, I was entitled to the costs of that matter, Sir. No question about it, but-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, as I say, I have given you permission on that.

MR BROWNE: Yes. Well, I’m not sure what that means exactly.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I have given you permission to appeal-

MR BROWNE: So when-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -on the costs order.

MR BROWNE: -so when do I appeal, Sir?

JUDGE GODSMARK: The appeal will be heard at the end, at the same time as the trial. At least that is the order I made, thinking it would save multiple hearings so I was trying to cut down on the number of times people would have to come to court on this. It is-

MR BROWNE: So why can’t I have costs now?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Because we do not know whether the appeal is successful or not. I have only given permission to appeal. The appeal may succeed, it may fail, but you have got to get permission to appeal before there can be a Court of Appeal hearing.

MR BROWNE: Right.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So what I have given permission for is for there to be a full appeal hearing.

MR BROWNE: Okay.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I mean, we may revisit that at the end of today but I do not want to give you more to deal with than you have got on your plate at the moment.

MR BROWNE: I would like to add something as well. All this, applications, appeals and all the rest of it is costing me a fortune and I can’t seem to find a resolution for it anywhere, and I mean all the judges have kicked me into touch and I hate to say this, but District Judge Hale made a big deal about the cheque. What the hell’s that got to do with anything? You know, I’m flabbergasted. But not only that, he advises me I don’t even know what a copy machine is.

That’s why I walked out, and I think, I think, Sir, if you’re being helpful and reasonable and you’ve taken costs into account, basically the costs to me by transferring to London is going to be a lot, so, but I would say the costs, they would save costs at the other end. I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: So you, I understand that. You are, you are happy if it costs you a bit more to go to London because you are more confident in what will happen in London?

MR BROWNE: I’m more confident of getting a fair hearing before an impartial judge.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I understand.

MR BROWNE: And I believe totally this Reeson matter has been, I’m sure Reeson, when he has a cup of coffee, he talks about this and why is it as well that I get Roberts every time? I’m sorry; I get Hale almost every time I come down here. Why? Does Hale pick me out? I think he does. And the way he acted throughout that hearing was outrageous, in my book. He hammered me from the moment we started and he seemed to consider that they were the other side and, to my mind, why? Why, why, why? It is being reasonable and straightforward. Why is he behaving like this?

Oh yes. That must be remembered, Sir, and I think it’s very important that he actually allowed BG a barrister, which in the small claims court is most unusual, to be, to have discussions with him before I was allowed in. Why? I tried to get this gentleman next to me to explain why they object to it going to London and with respect, Your Honour, you answered my question. He didn’t.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that is only because I have read what is in his argument, so-

MR BROWNE: Quite. Okay. But I do believe totally, Sir, what everything costs because if this matter is transferred to London and this matter can be closed down today, and we can get on with the job down in London.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right, so that is transfer, is it?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: What is the next one?

MR BROWNE: Well I can’t, if you would grant the transfer, Sir, they might, the rest won’t, the rest wouldn’t have to be-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, but they are all interrelated. That is the trouble. I mean, it had occurred to me, do I deal with transfer first-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -and then leave everything else to the others? But the fact is I cannot deal with transfer without looking at the appeals, because you say there is bias in the appeals so I have got to look at that and I have got to look at the appeals before coming to a conclusion. So they are all linked up.

MR BROWNE: Well, really, Sir, I would very much like you to respond to this point particularly, on its own.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No. They are all linked, and I am going to hear argument on all of them before I come to a decision on any of them.

MR BROWNE: Excuse me, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Of course.

[Discussion sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: What we’re talking about, Your Honour, is the fact that we are asking him to answer the question and you’ve answered it for him because you’ve seen it in his submissions.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mm-hmm.

MR BROWNE: Is that correct?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, the skeleton argument which he has filed.

MR BROWNE: So just, there’s nothing more to be said about that and there’s no way I can give a response to that right now?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, I will hear more from Mr Balding when he addresses me, but you wanted an answer to the question. The answer that has already been provided in the skeleton argument, which I assume is the one he is going to give me, I pass on to you.

MR BROWNE: Well, I will probably be left with no choice in this matter, if the matter is, is here in Nottingham. That’s why I’m asking for it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I understand that you, I understand that you want a transfer and I-

MR BROWNE: I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -hope I have put in clear terms how I think your case fits into the legal position. It is (a) bias and even if there is no bias it is the appearance of bias, so both strands, you say, mean this case should be transferred out of Nottingham.

MR BROWNE: That is exactly right, Sir. I, I cannot possibly accept the fact that it’ll be heard here in Nottingham.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, I understand. What shall we do next?

MR BROWNE: Well, I think we’ve discussed the Hale part.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So nothing else you want to add on the, on the Hale hearing?

MR BROWNE: Well, basically I think I’ve appealed that hearing and you have, in your order here, have pointed out the errors that he has made, and-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, do not-

MR BROWNE: -you’ve also pointed out the, the parts of the transcript which you should look at.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes. Do not be deceived by my order, Mr Browne, because what I have done is I have given you permission to appeal Judge Hale’s order as to the costs, the costs of your application. But, well, let me put it this way: what order do you say Judge Hale should have made?

MR BROWNE: Clearly my application was valid, in every way.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, your application was for an unless order, ‘Give me this material within two days of the hearing.’

MR BROWNE: Not my application.

[Pause]

MR BROWNE: Yes, the fact of the matter is that the order could not have been done, could not happen because there was, there wasn’t enough time. They had made a request for four days was it?

[Discussion sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: Yes, oh yes, that’s another example of what I’m saying, is that the order was not possible because of the time limit, but DJ Roberts made a note before that, in other words the claim [inaudible] went to the other side.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Sorry? DJ Roberts?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Just let me go back a bit. So far as the hearing before District Judge Hale is concerned, your application was for an unless order, that unless British Gas gave you-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -their list of documents within two days, they would be struck out?

MR BROWNE: Yes. They didn’t do it. And I had to make an application.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, your, the application was that they serve, they serve the list within two days of the making of an unless order. Your application in the bundle that I have got before me is page 64, behind tab six, if you have got the same bundle.

[Discussion sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: I can’t locate that one, for some reason, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Do you have a copy of this, Mr Browne? An order like this?

MR BROWNE: No, I don’t.

MR BALDING: Your Honour, I was told that-

JUDGE GODSMARK: As far as you are concerned it has been served?

MR BALDING: They were served and sent to the court.

JUDGE GODSMARK: We have got one; we have not got more than one.

MR BALDING: My, I was told by my solicitors that two, two bundles, one large one, one small one-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BALDING: -were served.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So presumably a set has been sent to Mr Browne?

MR BALDING: Yes, I was told-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BALDING: -that had happened.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So, Mr Browne, have you got in a file like this all the orders, the transcripts?

MR BROWNE: No, I haven’t, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Can we find a copy of the order, of the application, please?

MR BALDING: Your Honour, if it helps, I can pass over my copy.

JUDGE GODSMARK: That is helpful, thank you very much, Mr Balding.

MR BALDING: Mr Browne, that’s a copy of the, it’s dated 13th on the front, where the signatures.

MR BROWNE: 13th September.

[Discussion sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: Yes, it’s obviously an unless order. Yes. Moon Beever ignored it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I am sorry; I understand that you say that the list of documents was sent late, according to the order of District Judge Millard? I understand that. When we get to the hearing before District Judge Hale you are asking for an order that British Gas serve the list of documents within two days, i.e. by 11th December.

[Discussion sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: Yes, we prepared a draft order.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right, so-

MR BROWNE: We prepared a draft order saying that unless he complies with it, we’re requesting it be struck out.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, so unless they comply with it by, the hearing was on the 9th, you are asking for two days, so you wanted an order that they comply by 11th December or be struck out. That is what your application is.

MR BROWNE: It is, yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So what order do you say District Judge Hale should have made?

MR BROWNE: This one, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: That they supply, that they give you the documents within two days or be struck out?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: But they had already given you the documents, the list.

MR BROWNE: Yes, but they were very late, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes-

MR BROWNE: I’d already made the application.

JUDGE GODSMARK: But your application is, ‘Give me the list in two days.’ So you want an order that they give you something that they gave you three months ago?

MR BROWNE: They didn’t give me it three months ago.

JUDGE GODSMARK: They gave it to you on 6th September.

MR BROWNE: No-

MR BALDING: Your Honour, I believe it was the 16th.

JUDGE GODSMARK: The 16th?

MR BROWNE: -requirement that they should have been done by 6th September. It was not.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, but is it, I am sure it is me, Mr Browne, but you have applied to the Court for an order, an unless order to say, ‘Give me the list within two days of making this order. So, give me the list by 11th December.’ That is what your application is.

MR BROWNE: That may have been right, Sir, but I would have already made the application and paid for it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, but I am sorry, so what order can District Judge Hale make? That is what I am struggling with. You are saying, we go back to the question I asked you, because we are looking at the, at the appeal against District Judge Hale’s order. What order do you say he should have made on 9th December?

MR BROWNE: He should have made an order requiring Moon Beever to comply with the order of DJ Millard.

JUDGE GODSMARK: But they had already done it.

MR BROWNE: They hadn’t.

JUDGE GODSMARK: They had, they served you with a list on 16th September.

MR BROWNE: Well even that’s 10 days late.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, but it is, but they had done it by 9th December, which is when your application was being heard.

MR BROWNE: Well I don’t know about that, Sir. I mean, they would say anything. As to what they, they would say anything.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So-

MR BROWNE: They have already done so.

JUDGE GODSMARK: You-

MR BROWNE: The fact of the matter is that I made this application, when I made this application I had not received any indication from Moon Beever that they intended to obey. It would be reasonable for me to presume that a solicitor, professional solicitor would comply with the order of DJ Millard. It shouldn’t have been necessary for me to make that application.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that may be relevant to costs and I have given you permission to appeal on costs but you are saying that the order that District Judge Hale should have made on 9th December is, ‘Unless you serve your list of documents by the 11th, you are struck out.’

MR BROWNE: Is that the way you’re interpreting it, Sir?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well-

MR BROWNE: I don’t see it that way.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -that is-

MR BROWNE: I see-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -that is why I am asking you, Mr Browne.

MR BROWNE: No, I’m saying quite truthfully that I did not receive this then when I made the application-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I understand that.

MR BROWNE: So therefore the very fact that I had made the application, I had to go through with it. The very fact-

JUDGE GODSMARK: No-

MR BROWNE: -that they were late, don’t forget they were 99 days late with, with their cheque.

JUDGE GODSMARK: What order are you saying District Judge Hale should have made on 9th December?

MR BROWNE: He should have, ‘Unless the claimant complies with paragraph four of the order dated 20’ that will be Millard’s order.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: ‘In relation to the delivery of a list of documents within two days, then an order, it should be struck out.’ Now, I, and I don’t know whether you’re suggesting it, Sir, that I would have made an application after I’d received the, the list of documents.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, I just want to know, you are appealing District Judge Hale’s order, you are saying he should have made a different order.

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: So I want to know what is the order you say he should have made.

MR BROWNE: He should have made an order based on the order of DJ Millard which had not been adhered to by Moon Beever. That’s it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Now-

MR BROWNE: They should have been penalised appropriately.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Now, you are saying he did not make that order because he was biased against you and we have talked about that.

MR BROWNE: There’s no question of that, about that.

JUDGE GODSMARK: In terms of, are you saying that District Judge Hale went wrong for any reason other than bias? Are you saying, or is it bias drives it all?

MR BROWNE: I’m afraid so, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Bias drives it all?

MR BROWNE: I hate to say this, but I believe that to be the case because I couldn’t find any other reason for his behaviour. He bullied me throughout the proceedings. Why? I’m a litigant in person. At least with you, Your Honour, at least you are listening.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Okay. Is there anything else you want to say about the Hale appeal?

MR BROWNE: Well I don’t think there’s not much else I can say, Sir. I think I’ve said it all.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Okay.

MR BROWNE: I am claiming quite squarely that District Judge Hale was biased against me and not only that, Sir, I’d appeared before him before and he was biased against me that time. I mean, I just, I just want to make it, a small little example is that if I, if I’m making a claim in the small claims court and against me, and I come to the court and say to the judge, ‘Yes, I’ve got loads of evidence supporting my case but I haven’t got it with me today.’

JUDGE GODSMARK: This is the Middleton claim?

MR BROWNE: No. This will be the CDS.

JUDGE GODSMARK: TGS?

MR BROWNE: CDS.

JUDGE GODSMARK: CDS.

MR BROWNE: They call it Clear Debt Solutions, is what they call themselves.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right.

MR BROWNE: Right. Now, as far as I was concerned, I don’t want to go into the details of that case, only that he arrived in court and I would imagine that when you’ve got notice like you do get, at least six weeks or something like that, he prepares himself, comes to court and bring the evidence he’s got. But if a bloke comes to court after six weeks and says to the judge, ‘I’m sorry but I haven’t got any evidence.’ You’d think the judge would say straightaway, ‘I find for Mr Browne.’ That would be logical. No, he didn’t do that, he said, ‘I want to give them every opportunity to produce the evidence.’ So he abandoned the case and it was weeks later they renewed it again. This time the opposition turns up with an unsupported chronology. And I said, ‘You know, he could have got hold of it and wrote that, Sir.’ And he turned around abruptly and said, ‘I believe it, Mr Browne. That’s the end of it.’ And then he dismisses the case completely and makes no order for costs. If that’s not prejudice then what the hell is it? I was not to win. Basically he couldn’t possibly find me winning, and definitely[?] I had won that case, because I had all the evidence against CDS in detail. It’s just another example.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Roberts appeal?

MR BROWNE: Here we go into another situation as well, that to a large degree they are, I made a witness summons.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Phil Bentley, former CEO, British Gas.

MR BROWNE: Oh no he wasn’t, he was the Managing Director.

JUDGE GODSMARK: MD was he?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right.

MR BROWNE: A bloke called Sam Laidlaw was the CEO, who now is actually resigning, along with the others I’ve mentioned, all the rest of them-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Let us stick to Mr Bentley.

MR BROWNE: Yes, anyway, I am in Bentley’s case, I considered that I’d been writing to him for a number of times and he had wrote back to me, and he finished his letters off with, ‘Yours sincerely.’ And signs it. As far as I’m concerned he was involved up to his neck and I wanted an explanation as to why British Gas had acted in such a stupid way and why is the matter being dragged out and out and out, from 2007 onwards. I wanted him to come to court and say this, tell us why. But as soon as he got the, the witness summons he absconded. Then all of a sudden Moon Beever who’d represented British Gas, is now interfering with my, with my witness. I just can’t follow that. They, in my view would, Bentley should have gone off and got another solicitor to represent him; he should not have used Moon Beever. He was no longer an employee of British Gas. As far as I’m aware he was…

Also as well was the case of the, even when it was refused, did Moon Beever return my £170? No, it still hasn’t been returned to this very day. We’ve asked for it a few times but Moon Beever just don’t take any notice and I believe, I believe totally that that particular order was to set aside. Now, as far as I’m concerned, that witness summons still stands and I don’t see any reason why he should be allowed to escape.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, it-

MR BROWNE: And-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -it has at the moment been set aside. You want me to re-instate it?

MR BROWNE: I will try and re-instate it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, you want me to re-instate it?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes. I understand, but at the moment it stands set aside. That is what the appeal is about?

MR BROWNE: Now if for instance Moon Beever claimed, for instance, that he actually is now in America and that £170 would not be enough to cover his travel expenses. But he was here in England at the time I made the application; he absconded and it’s understandable what he did that for. If necessary I’d have paid for him to come back because I wouldn’t have expected him to respond in any case. You see, there’s a copy of the cheque sent. Not been returned.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I have seen that.

MR BROWNE: What sort of behaviour is this?

JUDGE GODSMARK: You told Deputy District Judge Roberts, and again I am looking at the transcript here, page 10 from line 13; I will summarise it to you and then we can if necessary look at it in more detail. You said that the reason you wanted Mr Bentley there was that you wanted him to answer questions about why he had ignored you for five years and ignored all of your letters, and why you did not take action against, sorry, why he did not take action against you.

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And that you wanted him to tell the Court why he ignored you and did not take action? That is what you want him there for?

MR BROWNE: Yes, pretty well. He never even made a statement, he never even wrote a letter to the Court, in any way or form. I did apply of course to the Energy Ombudsman; I applied to anybody I thought could help with the matter but nobody could, it seems. I had to come to court in the end. The Energy Ombudsman said it wasn’t within their remit to do this and that and the other, but the usual situation with British Gas; if they can’t do anything they just offer you £70 compensation. But by this time they had overcharged me by £5,000. [So it wasn’t an acceptable situation?].

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne, so far as Deputy District Judge Roberts-

MR BROWNE: I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I beg your pardon. So far as Deputy District Judge Roberts is concerned, am I right in thinking that you are saying that he is biased as well?

MR BROWNE: I’m afraid so. I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Just so I have got it right. So-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -you say that that bias thread runs through-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -both of these?

MR BROWNE: Yes. I mean, normally, Sir, and I’m talking to you, Your Honour, you’re a very mild-mannered person and I appreciate that.

JUDGE GODSMARK: On a good day.

MR BROWNE: But in the case of Hale and in the case of Roberts, they were aggressive from the word go, and they had a serious look on their face, particularly Roberts. He seemed to be so aggressive and I always remember at the end of that particular hearing when he turned around with a very great big satisfaction on his face and he said, ‘You have made these applications, I’ve rejected them all, Mr Browne. End of story. Goodbye.’

[Discussion sotto voce]

It was, there was another situation in the case of Roberts. When the application they made could not have been dealt with because they’d made a time limit of four days, but it couldn’t be done within four days. It was only two days to go, but Roberts opened the gate for them and let them in. Why? Because it looked like I could win, that’s why.

[Discussion sotto voce]

In effect, Sir, he should have totally dismissed that application because it would have been impossible to implement. But no, he was determined I was not going to win; I couldn’t possibly have been allowed to win. It’s terrible. This is unbelievable stuff and it could only have reverted back to Reeson, I can’t see how it could be anything else. And basically he shouldn’t have entertained the application at all, to be honest. But there you are, and I mean I feel, I feel as well that here we have a District Judge, a DDJ judge, Roberts, who is a practising solicitor, who could very well have an acquaintance with people like this. I believe the man who was there that day was from Nottingham, he’d been appointed from Nottingham not London, and these are all, and these are all, oh yes, that was, on that occasion, the Roberts occasion it was a Mr Rothschild[?] from London and it was a telephone conversation. But Roberts was told and went backwards.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I think it was listed as a telephone and you, you turned up for the application, did you not? So you, you were there yourself?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: I attended personally.

JUDGE GODSMARK: With Mr Rothschild on the phone?

MR BROWNE: I’m suspicious of the evidence, the system. Well, you see, the way I figure it as well, there was a grim determination here somewhere because this fellow was a very, very high-powered barrister. It would have cost them a hell of a lot less to have an agent here to deal with these small claims, but no, there was a big determination on behalf, to take full advantage of the bias against me, so they sent along high-powered barristers.

[Discussion sotto voce]

I, I think that all of this matter could have been handled by a solicitor locally. It’s a small claim, not a big, a small claim.

JUDGE GODSMARK: And is that Roberts?

[Discussion sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: Yes, oh, yes. This is very important, this part. I’d forgotten all about this. Roberts, because he couldn’t implement the situation as per their requirements he tried very hard to let them in but in the, before he did that he had already stated that, indicated that the matter cannot go ahead as planned and therefore he, by his own volition-

JUDGE GODSMARK: This was your application to vacate the trial which was set for 9th January, was it not?

MR BROWNE: Yes. But he had already cancelled that particular hearing, on the 9th.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well it would not have been him, Mr Browne. What happens is that the, the court looks at the diary ahead and if it looks as though we are going to get a clash or we cannot fit all the cases in then decisions like that are taken by a particular individual in the court, with my authority.

MR BROWNE: Yes, Sir, I have no objection to that.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: What I do object to is that DJ Roberts turned around and said to me, after he’d done that, ‘Do you want to adjourn this matter then, Mr Browne?’ I said, ‘I thought you’d already done it.’ I think I said words to that effect and he said again, ‘Do you want to adjourn this matter, Mr Browne?’ I think he said it two, three times.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I think what he said was-

MR BROWNE: I-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I think what he said was, ‘Do you want to withdraw your application?’

MR BROWNE: He didn’t say withdraw the application, he said, ‘Do you want to adjourn it?’

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, let us have a look.

MR BROWNE: Okay.

[Pause]

MR BALDING: If it helps, Your Honour, pages 63M. It’s page 12.

JUDGE GODSMARK: You see, I have got it page 12 of the transcript, ‘Do I take it you now wish to withdraw your application to vacate the trial?’ And again, ‘Do you want to withdraw your application or do you want me to make a finding on your application?’ I mean, it, it is entirely for you, Mr Browne, but it does not strike me that this is really what we are arguing about. We are arguing about the witness summons, really, are we not?

[Discussions sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: He did say that the, the, application to adjourn, I have an application to adjourn the trial. That is the only application.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Where are you reading from, Mr Browne?

MR BROWNE: I’m reading from page 13.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Page 13? Yes. I mean, that is what you want, whether you call it adjourn or vacate, they mean the same thing. But what you wanted to do was have the trial taken out for 9th January.

MR BROWNE: Well, it couldn’t take place on the 9th, that’s my whole point.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, and that is what the District Judge was saying to you. He said, ‘If you can’t do it, do you want to withdraw the application?’

MR BROWNE: Well I can’t, but he’d already withdrawn it, he’d already done it himself.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, I think that may have been why he was asking you what, whether you wanted to pursue it.

MR BROWNE: No, but he, he asked me-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne-

MR BROWNE: -afterwards.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -Mr Browne-

MR BROWNE: -after he’d done it himself.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Does this matter?

MR BROWNE: Pardon?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Does this matter?

MR BROWNE: Well, it matters insofar that he was endeavouring once again to outwit me or to get me to admit to something.

JUDGE GODSMARK: How? Sorry, I cannot see that.

MR BROWNE: Well, he insisted on me answering that question. I had to say, ‘Yes’.

[Discussions sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: In effect, Sir, on reading this it’s clear that DJ Roberts was bullying me, as usual. I do recall this, yes, I know, he, he pushed me three, three times and eventually I had to say, ‘Yes’. Yes, we had some applications missing on that occasion and we don’t know why, and we still don’t know why, but we decided not to pursue that on the grounds that it was, it would take up time and we felt it was basically irrelevant because we’ve submitted that particular application.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right. So does that deal with the Roberts hearing?

MR BROWNE: I don’t think so, Sir, because we still have the matter of Phil Bentley, and the £170, and it still hasn’t been dealt with, even now.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, I say ‘dealt with’, anything more you want to say about it that you have not said already?

[Discussions sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: He actually, he seemed to give this Mr Rothschild a hell of a lot of leeway and in order he wouldn’t be disadvantaged, and that’s why in my view, as I recall it or let’s [inaudible] the impression I got but of course it’s not in this transcript, that he was asking me to adjourn the matter.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Rothschild was?

MR BROWNE: No, Roberts.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Roberts? Sorry.

[Discussions sotto voce]

MR BROWNE: It couldn’t be done basically, and that’s what it’s all about. Now, once again he said to me, ‘You have made these applications, Mr Browne. I’ve found against you in each one of them. Thank you very much. Goodbye.’ I think that was unreasonable and both Hale and Roberts they just set out to bully me throughout. Due to Reeson, in my view, who was still sitting in the Nottingham County Court at the time. So I can only presume that’s the reason, I can’t think of anything else. In actual fact you might say that this is provable, it’s actually provable. I’ve got all the documentation regarding it but I haven’t got it here. I can give you full documentation of the whole issue in the case of Reeson and I can’t help but think, Sir, that, you know, you’re all permanent judges, and there must be, I mean, they do talk to each other, must do, they must talk shop from time to time. But I would have thought that Mr Reeson would have wanted to keep a low profile, quite honestly. It appears that’s not the case. It appears he had discussions with other judges. And I’m now suffering because of it.

I feel I would get a fair deal down in London where I would be totally away from all of this baggage that seems to exist in Nottingham. I’m not asking you to make a judgment on judicial bias because I think this would be very difficult for you to do; just to transfer the matter out.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Thank you, Mr Browne. Mr Balding?

MR BALDING: Your Honour-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Any order you like.

MR BALDING: Your Honour, I think I’ll deal with the applications in the order that Mr Browne’s dealt with them.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Certainly.

MR BALDING: You’ve got my submissions already on the written grounds-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BALDING: -for strike out. Just in relation to what Mr Browne has said orally in relation to the strike out application, I think you summarised them in three, under three headings, the first was the fact that British Gas disregarded the rules. I think that was a reference by Mr Browne to District Judge Millard’s order in relation to the order for disclosure that both parties complete standard disclosure by 6th September, I believe. I’ll come on to this in more detail when I deal with the hearing before District Judge Hale but British Gas provided their list of documents on 16th September. Mr Browne at the hearing on 9th December asked District Judge Hale to strike out the case on the basis of that delay, I think, which is 10 days. As District Judge Hale recognised, that would have been wholly disproportionate and that remains the case.

The second heading you gave was abusing the system. I’m not entirely sure if Mr Browne, what Mr Browne’s submission on that point was. He referred to short‑listing and the fact that British Gas had asked for the trial within two weeks of issuing a claim. That seems unlikely, but I’ve got no information about that at all, but [inaudible] happen and that’s obviously not a ground for striking out the claim, and in relation to the final heading, customer service, Mr Browne complains that British Gas has treated him very unfairly. They’re points no doubt that Mr Browne will want to raise at trial, but they’re not a reason to strike out the claim.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, thank you.

MR BALDING: For those reasons we say the strike out application should be dismissed with costs. Turning then to the application to transfer these proceedings to London, if you want to turn to that application I believe it’s at page 70 of the main bundle. This application seems to be based on the idea that there’s some conspiracy among the judiciary in Nottingham against Mr Browne, or at least some unconscious bias against him. He seems to believe that there’s not a single judge in Nottingham who’s able to determine the trial in the main proceedings fairly. In my submission, Your Honour, there’s no foundation for that allegation at all. Mr Browne’s application refers to the Reeson factor. Listening to Mr Browne’s submissions, I am still slightly unclear as to exactly what that’s a reference to. My understanding had been that it was a reference to a previous costs hearing in front of District Judge Reeson, but Mr Browne’s submissions today seem to suggest that it’s, an order was made against District Judge Reeson rather than by him.

JUDGE GODSMARK: My understanding is that Mr, from what I gather from Mr Browne that he was engaged in litigation against Mr Reeson, so it was not, and by the sound of it you have not seen the Court of Appeal order, Mr Balding?

MR BALDING: I haven’t.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I do not think there is any reason why you should not see it. So it looks as though it is an action against Mr Reeson as a partner in a firm of solicitors.

MR BALDING: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Now, that action as I was trying to establish the dates with Mr Browne, I think the original Court of Appeal order must have been about 1995, whilst District Judge Reeson was in private practice.

MR BALDING: I’m grateful for that, Your Honour. Two points to make with reference to that. The first is implicit in the dates that you’ve elicited from Mr Browne in relation to that. It was many years ago, and so a long time ago and secondly the judges sitting in Nottingham are independent, they have taken a judicial oath. There’s no reason at all to believe that District Judge Hale, Deputy District Judge Roberts or anyone else sitting in Nottingham County Court-

JUDGE GODSMARK: What about-

MR BALDING: -would be influenced or even-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -what about the perception?

MR BALDING: Your Honour, in my submission the, a fair-minded informed observer would know that, that there’s no, I, in my submission there’s no apparent bias at all, that litigation against a judge before he was appointed as a judge which I think this is what this refers to, would have any impact at all on the considered judgment of a judge, a sitting judge who has taken a judicial oath to treat both parties in all of the cases that he hears fairly. Particularly if that case was many years ago. There’s not even any evidence that District Judge Hale or Deputy District Judge Roberts even know, even knew about this case. In my submission, Your Honour, this has no relevance at all to these proceedings. A fair trial in Nottingham is clearly possible and it’s also far too late, in my submission, for these proceedings to be transferred to London. This case is ready for trial.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, let me pose the question to you that Mr Browne wants answered: why will you not consent, why will you not consent to it being in London? Those instructing you are a London firm.

MR BALDING: A number of points in relation to that. First, it’s too late and to transfer it would no doubt involve several months of unnecessary delay. British Gas want this case determined as soon as possible, they want to recover the debts that they say Mr Browne owes them as soon as possible, and would like to avoid any unnecessary delay.

Secondly a trial in Nottingham in my submission is the most convenient option. Mr Browne resides in Nottingham, the only, the only witness that British Gas are intending to call, Miss Susan Toon, is based nearby in Leicester. I’m instructed for this hearing, I don’t know who, which counsel is going to be instructed for the trial. It may well be Nottingham, I don’t have information.

For those reasons, and given that, in my submission, the allegation of bias in relation to all judges in Nottingham is unsubstantiated, there’s no reason to transfer these proceedings to London.

Your Honour, if you feel that transferring these proceedings out of Nottingham is necessary in my submission it’s not, but if that’s the way you feel, I would suggest that a transfer to Leicester would be more convenient than London. My primary submission remains however, Your Honour, that there’s no reason to transfer these proceedings out of Nottingham.

Those are all the submissions I would make on the application to transfer these proceedings.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Thank you.

MR BALDING: I’ll deal with the Hale appeal next. If you want to see the application notice, that, it’s at I think page 69A. If I could just take those back, that’s right, thank you. Now, that application seeks an order setting aside, varying or staying the order that Your Honour made on 23rd December and if you want to see that, that’s at page 194 of the main bundle. Pursuant to that order which was made without a hearing, Mr Browne was refused permission to appeal against the substance of the order made by District Judge Hale on 9th December.

That hearing concerned two disclosure applications. Mr Browne made an application filed on 16th September seeking an order requiring British Gas to file and serve its list of documents. That application is at page 64 of the main bundle. As it happened, that application served no purpose at all. British Gas served its list of documents by email at 11.46am on the same day. There’s a reference to that at paragraph 14 of the witness statement of Steven Elsey[?] who’s a solicitor with Moon Beever, at page 117 of the main bundle, tab eight. An order had been made by District Judge Millard requiring both parties to comply, to complete standard disclosure by 6th September. I think there was a slight delay in British Gas serving their list of documents, caused by confusion as to whether or not Mr Browne’s solicitors Rothera Dowson were still acting on his behalf. British Gas nevertheless served its list of documents before the deadline of 12 noon on 16th September which Mr Browne specified in his letter dated 13th September. If you want a reference to that, that’s at, in the main bundle at tab eight page 142.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, I have got that.

MR BALDING: Furthermore on 21st October British Gas sent to Mr Browne copies of all the documents in that list which they believed were not already in Mr Browne’s possession, and they made clear in subsequent correspondence that if Mr Browne did not have copies of the other documents they were quite willing to provide copies to him. Despite all of this, Mr Browne nevertheless refused to withdraw his application. Mr Browne has said today that, having filed the application, he had to go through with it. That’s not true; he could have withdrawn the application and British Gas indeed requested him to do so on a number of occasions.

The second matter that District Judge Hale had to deal with on 9th December was an application by British Gas dated 11th November for an order requiring Mr Browne to file and serve a list of documents in the required form, that’s form N265. British Gas also sought an order for Mr Browne to provide copies of certain relevant documents including his correspondence with the Energy Supply Ombudsman. District Judge Hale’s order of 9th December required a number of things. If I could just ask you to turn to that, that’s at page 192 of the bundle. It required British Gas to-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Just a second, Mr Balding. Bear in mind that when you refer to page 192, it does not look as though Mr Browne can follow us. We are talking about, are we not, the actual order of District Judge Hale with the list of documents subject to that order annexed to it.

MR BALDING: That’s correct, Your Honour.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Have you got a copy of the order made by District Judge Hale on 9th December, Mr Browne?

MR BROWNE: I’ve got that, yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: You, fine. So that is what we are referring to at the moment.

MR BALDING: Your Honour, that order required British Gas to provide Mr Browne with copies of certain documents by 16th December. They included the pleadings and inter-party correspondence and invoices that had been sent to Mr Browne. As I’ve said, Your Honour, British Gas assumed that Mr Browne already had copies of those documents.

Mr Browne has said that District Judge Hale ignored his application. He didn’t. Most of the application was not needed, as I’ve said, because the documents had already been sent to Mr Browne. In relation to the documents he didn’t have, which British Gas assumed Mr Browne already had in his possession, paragraph one of the order deals with that, so paragraph one of the order is relating to Mr Browne’s application.

The order also required Mr Browne to file and serve a completed form N265 by 16th December; required Mr Browne to confirm by the same date whether the documents sought by British Gas in its letter of 28th November were in his possession or control and, if they were, to provide British Gas with copies of those documents; and required the parties to exchange witness statements by 3rd January.

The costs of those applications were ordered to be costs in the case and permission to appeal was not granted by District Judge Hale. Mr Browne filed an appeal against that order on 11th December. If you want a reference to that, Your Honour, it’s at the main bundle tab three page 18 to 25. For Mr Browne’s benefit, that’s his appellant’s notice dated 11th December.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, I have got that.

MR BALDING: You can see at page 21 of the main bundle, section five of that appellant’s notice, that he wants to appeal, he appeals against the whole order because it has, ‘Nothing to do with my application.’ Turn over two pages, in section 10 of the appellant’s notice you can see that the, the basis for seeking to set aside that order, as Mr Browne’s elaborated today, is an allegation of judicial bias against District Judge Hale, that allegation being based simply on the fact that District Judge Hale heard what Mr Browne himself describes as an unrelated matter involving him in the past. Mr Browne suggests in his appellant’s notice that, ‘In effect my application was not referred to at the hearing.’

Just on that point, Your Honour, as I’ve said, paragraph one of District Judge Hale’s order does deal with Mr Browne’s application so that statement in itself is not correct. Mr Browne’s application for permission to appeal came before Your Honour and on 23rd December without a hearing you granted permission for Mr Browne to appeal against permission to appeal but that was limited to the issue of costs, the costs of Mr Browne’s application of 16th September. That issue, as Your Honour has indicated and as stated in your order, is to be determined at the trial.

Mr Browne’s application was otherwise dismissed. If I could just ask you to turn to the order that Your Honour made on 23rd December? It’s at page 194 of the main bundle.

JUDGE GODSMARK: We are looking, Mr Browne, at the order I made on 23rd December.

MR BROWNE: The 23rd?

JUDGE GODSMARK: 23rd.

MR BROWNE: Yes, I’ve got it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Have you got that? Thank you.

MR BROWNE: Yes.

MR BALDING: You’ll see at the bottom, just under the heading, ‘Reasons’-

JUDGE GODSMARK: If you do not follow which document we are on at any time, you must say and we will give you a moment to find it.

MR BROWNE: Okay.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I am sorry, Mr Balding?

MR BROWNE: Yes.

MR BALDING: Before dealing with the issue of costs, under the heading, ‘Reasons’ the order states, ‘The directions given by District Judge Hale are well within the broad discretion to be exercised in matters of case management. The directions themselves are in no way biased or inappropriate. They will stand.’

In my submission, Your Honour, Mr Browne’s renewed application for permission to appeal is totally without merit for the following reasons. First, the appeal would serve no purpose at all, given that all of the steps specified in District Judge Hale’s order have already been, have already taken place. The documents which British Gas was required to provide copies of to Mr Browne in paragraph one of District Judge Hale’s order were sent I believe on 12th December. Mr Browne filed and served a completed form N265 by, on I believe 10th December. Although Mr Browne initially failed to comply with the order requiring him to file and serve a signed statement relating to the documents sought by British Gas, an unless order was made by Deputy District Judge Roberts on 7th January. Mr Browne duly filed that signed statement on 10th January and the witness statements have already been exchanged. Mr Browne’s witness statement I believe was served on 26th October last year and British Gas served a witness statement from Miss Susan Toon on 2nd January.

So all of the steps District Judge Hale specified should have taken place have already taken place and the appeal serves no purpose. Indeed Mr Browne indicated that, struggled to specify what he says District Judge Hale should have ordered on that day.

Secondly, the application has been made out of time. Rule 52.3(5) of the CPR says that ‘a request for an oral hearing for permission to appeal must be filed within seven days of service of notice that permission to appeal has been refused.’ Assuming that notice of the order that Your Honour gave was posted to Mr Browne on 23rd December, it was deemed to be served on Mr Browne on 27th December, in accordance with rule 6.26 of the CPR. So the last day on which Mr Browne’s request could be filed was 3rd January. Mr Browne’s put forward no explanation for that delay.

Thirdly-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Not a time point in this case, I am afraid, Mr Balding.

MR BALDING: I understand that, Your Honour. Thirdly, in any event-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Just so, I will just make it clear to Mr Browne what I am saying. The application should be made within seven days. I have power to extend time for a request for an oral hearing. Given that this was over Christmas and it is a litigant in person, I am going to extend time insofar as it may be needed.

MR BROWNE: Okay.

JUDGE GODSMARK: There is going to be no question of striking out because you are out of time, Mr Browne.

MR BALDING: Your Honour, perfectly understandable. Thirdly, in any event the appeal in my submission has no prospect of success. The directions were, as you noted in your order, matters of case management which lay within the discretion of District Judge Hale. Your Honour, you noted at the outset of this hearing that this was not a re-hearing of any of the previous hearings, the hearing before District Judge Hale or Deputy District Judge Roberts. The test is whether or not the orders made by District Judge Hale were outside the ambit of his discretion. In my submission they clearly were not, they were, the order requiring Mr Browne to comply with his disclosure obligations was clearly reasonable and proportionate. In relation to Mr Browne’s disclosure application, nothing was needed beyond paragraph one of the order. Mr Browne had already received the disclosure he sought, well before the hearing; even paragraph one of the order was not strictly necessary given that British Gas had already indicated in correspondence that they were willing to provide copies of documents to him if he did not have them for any reason.

At the hearing on 9th December, and perhaps this is relevant to the question Your Honour asked earlier, what order Mr Browne says District Judge Hale should have made. At the hearing on 9th December Mr Browne asked District Judge Hale to strike out the claim against him, on the basis that British Gas list of documents was served a few days late, 10 days late, I believe. That of course was not in Mr Browne’s application notice but District Judge Hale listened to that in any event and recognised that it would have been grossly disproportionate to strike out the claim on that basis.

Whether or not it’s an issue that goes to costs is something that will be dealt with in the appeal against District Judge Hale’s costs order.

In my submission there is no basis whatsoever for the allegation that District Judge Hale was either biased or that there was an appearance of bias against Mr Browne. Mr Browne made no complaints of bias at the hearing on 9th December. Your Honour’s indicated that you’ve read the transcript. On that basis in my submission Mr Browne’s waived any right to object to District Judge Hale hearing the application. It was not open to Mr Browne to see how the hearing went and then object later, but in any event the question in relation to apparent bias is whether a fair-minded informed observer having considered the facts would conclude that there was a real possibility that District Judge Hale was biased.

I’ve taken that from Porter v Magill, the judgment of the House of Lords. I’ve got copies of that if you’d like to see them, but I don’t think it’s necessary to turn to those.

In my submission, Your Honour, that test is clearly not satisfied. The fact that District Judge Hale may have heard another matter concerning Mr Browne which Mr Browne himself describes as an unrelated case, provides no basis at all for Mr Browne’s allegation. Your Honour, you’ll see at footnote 36 of my skeleton argument that I’ve made a reference to a case BTA Bank v Ablyazov. I don’t propose to turn to that, the point being simply that even in a case where a judge Teare J found the defendant guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to imprisonment, there was no apparent bias when the judge refused to excuse himself sitting on the trial seven months later.

Your Honour, in my submission, the transcript of the hearing on 9th December clearly shows that District Judge Hale sought at all times to be fair to both parties. I think one passage which, in my submission the whole transcript gives that impression, but certainly page 25 to 26 of the transcript which is at page I think 58 of the bundle.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Sorry, give me the page again, Mr Balding.

MR BALDING: Page 25 to 26 of the transcript.

JUDGE GODSMARK: The internal pagination, yes.

MR BALDING: From line 16 on page 25 through to line 17 on the next page, if I could just ask you to read that in order to remind yourself-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I have seen it.

MR BALDING: District Judge Hale there is concerned to make sure that Mr Browne, having served his witness statement very early in the proceedings, has an opportunity to, to respond in a further witness statement to the further disclosure that’s been ordered. In my submission that’s a clear indication that District Judge Hale is not inherently biased against Mr Browne in any way.

But, as I said, the whole transcript in my submission shows that District Judge Hale was trying to be fair to both parties and for those reasons, Your Honour, in my submission the 7th January application made by Mr Browne should be dismissed with costs.

JUDGE GODSMARK: As far as the Roberts appeal is concerned, I note the time. How long do you think you will be on-

MR BALDING: Your Honour, I can deal with that quite shortly.

JUDGE GODSMARK: What I suggest we do is we sit on to conclude this. Mr Browne will then be able to hear that and then I will break and I will make sure everyone has got an hour over lunch, but it means that having heard all of this, Mr Browne, you will then have an opportunity to think about it over lunchtime, before you reply anything you want to. So we will deal with it in that way, so we will take a slightly late lunch but we will still have an hour. Yes, Mr Balding?

MR BALDING: Your Honour, I’m grateful. The appellant’s notice, if you want a reference, that is at page 26 to 31 of the main bundle. That’s, for Mr Browne’s benefit, the appellant’s notice filed on 13th January. The appeal seeks to appeal against the order made by District Judge Roberts dated 7th January which, if you want a reference to that, is at page 200. The application for permission to appeal is confined to two aspects of the order made by Deputy District Judge Roberts, first the fact that it set aside a witness summons served on Mr Philip Bentley and second the fact that it ordered Mr Browne to pay British Gas’ costs arising out of the hearing on 7th January. In my submission the application should be dismissed because the appeal has no prospect of success. The grounds on which Mr Browne seeks to appeal are based on the proposition that Deputy District Judge Hale [sic] was biased against him. In my submission there’s simply no foundation for that assertion. Deputy District Judge Roberts decided British Gas’ application on its merits. Again, Mr Browne made no complaint of bias against Deputy District Judge Roberts at the hearing; indeed, unlike counsel for British Gas, Mr Browne was present in front of Deputy District Judge Roberts for that hearing. Counsel for British Gas was on the telephone.

Mr Browne has suggested today that Deputy District Judge Roberts was bullying Mr Browne in relation to whether or not he should withdraw the application to vacate the trial. In my submission what Deputy District Judge Roberts was doing there was trying to be fair to Mr Browne and asking whether he wanted a determination on the application that he had made, which he indicated that he did. In any event, in my submission, Deputy District Judge Roberts was clearly correct to set aside the witness summons. First, Mr Bentley is not a party to the proceedings, he has not provided a witness statement, he is the former managing director of British Gas which, I’m sure you’re aware, Your Honour, is an enormous company with millions of customers. Although Mr Browne [sic] appears to have signed one short letter to Mr Browne dated 1st January 2011, he did not draft that letter himself and would have no personal knowledge of the matters with which these proceedings are concerned.

Paragraph five of the witness statement of Miss [Melissa Jennings?], which is at tab nine page 178, of the main bundle, explains that. Mr Browne, Mr Bentley would simply have no relevant evidence to give in these proceedings. Secondly, as Miss Jennings noted at paragraphs eight to nine of her statement, Mr Bentley now resides in Florida, he is out of the jurisdiction, he is employed full-time as chief executive officer of Cable & Wireless, one of the world’s largest communication companies.

In my submission, Your Honour, it would be absurd and clearly disproportionate to require him to travel to the UK to give evidence in County Court proceedings worth only £19,000.

Thirdly, CPR rule 34.7 states, ‘A witness served with a witness summons must be offered or paid a sum reasonably sufficient to cover his expenses in travelling to and from the court, and a sum to compensate the loss of earnings.’ Mr Browne offered Mr Bentley the sum of £170. That was plainly inadequate to cover travel from Florida. Mr Browne has stated today that he would be willing to offer more. Whether he’s willing to pay, indeed, pay for the costs from Florida is perhaps something he might want to explore but in any event the matter was before Deputy District Judge Roberts when he’d offered the sum of £170 which was clearly inadequate.

Fourthly, Mr Browne waited for several months before applying for a witness summons. Mr Browne expressed, ‘a firm intention to apply for a witness summons’ in a letter he sent on 17th September which, if you want a reference to it, is at page 158 to 159 of the main bundle. He repeated that in his request for further information on 4th October, yet he did not apply for the witness summons until Christmas Eve, over three months later. There was no explanation for that delay.

For those reasons, Your Honour, in my submission Deputy District Judge Roberts was plainly entitled to set aside the witness summons and in my submission there was also no basis for Mr Browne’s appeal against the costs order made by Deputy District Judge Roberts. That order fell well within the wide discretion that Deputy District Judge Roberts had. The hearing concerned three applications: British Gas’ application to set aside the witness summons, British Gas’ application for an unless order requiring Mr Browne to comply with the disclosure obligations, and Mr Browne’s application to vacate the trial. Mr Browne was unsuccessful on each of those applications and Deputy District Judge Roberts was plainly entitled to order the unsuccessful party to pay the successful party’s costs.

For those reasons, Your Honour, we say that that application also should be dismissed with costs.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Thank you, Mr Balding. We are going to break now until 2.15pm. That will give you time to gather any thoughts that you wish to, Mr Browne, to address me in response and some thought can be given to the stage at which I deal with the other case. Whether that should be after I have given a decision on the various applications that I have heard thus far, I think probably it should be, but I will listen to anybody who wants to dissuade me. 2.15pm.

Court rises.

Court resumes at 2.13pm.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Now, Mr Browne, you have heard what Mr Balding has said about this. Do you wish to say anything in reply?

MR BROWNE: Yes. The first thing I would say, Your Honour, is they have been very economical with the truth, which is only to be expected. The, I have to sort of say that this is pretty well what I expected from them in any case. Also can I just refer back to the Reeson matter? It’s said that he was not a District Judge at the time of the hearing. Well, that’s quite right, but he was a Deputy District Judge.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Sorry, who…? Sorry, you have lost me. Who was a Deputy District Judge?

MR BROWNE: Reeson.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: DJ Reeson.

JUDGE GODSMARK: At the time of which hearing?

MR BROWNE: At the time of the hearing before the Court of Appeal.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right, okay.

MR BROWNE: I just wanted to correct that situation, because he did become a proper DJ in due course. Also I would like to point out as well that when it comes down to the Bentley, Phil Bentley being the managing director, the fact is he had millions of customers, that’s what they said. But I wanted Bentley to be in court because he was the policymaker of British Gas, and not just to talk about my individual case. I wanted to examine the policy which seemed to be crazy. The, it appeared to me that Moon Beever seemed to be very anxious not to move things forward at a pace which I’ve experienced before. I put it, Your Honour, to you that they just want this dealt with before the public hearing, the public enquiry because it will be damning on British Gas. That is the reason why they don’t want to agree to a transfer.

I also have to remind you as well that in the case of British Gas they did at one point employ solicitors called Shoosmiths to intimidate me, but unfortunately they gave them the wrong address. They said the, the address they were referring to was some place down south, which I’ve never heard of. Well, I think British Gas sacked Shoosmiths for whatever reason, and did so. But I would point out at this point everything refers back to the order of DJ Millard. If Moon Beever had responded to that, we would not be here and we would not have any of these applications and we probably wouldn’t have any of these appeals. But they say they didn’t do it and their excuse is that there was a change of solicitor at the time. In that case, why didn’t the list go to my solicitor? Why didn’t they go to my solicitor?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Because your solicitor said, ‘Can we delay?’

MR BROWNE: Pardon?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Because your solicitor said, ‘Can we delay?’

MR BROWNE: Delay?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes. Your solicitor contacted Moon Beever saying, ‘We are not ready to disclose yet. Can we have a short extension?’

MR BROWNE: Oh no that’s different, different situation, Sir. That was the situation we had when they first of all made their claim which I decided to prosecute me in the courts, small claims court.

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, that related to the disclosure list. Your solicitor telephoned Moon Beever to say, was it a telephone call or was it an email? Let me have a look. They asked for an extension of time for the disclosure process.

MR BROWNE: Well I’d already done that; I’d already done the disclosure, on the 16th

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, that was on the 6th September that they asked for that.

MR BROWNE: 6th September?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes. Just a minute.

MR BROWNE: I’d already disclosed it on 6th September.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, you see, that was part of the problem. As I understand it, Mr Browne, Moon Beever have got your solicitors Rothera Dowson on record. They are obliged professionally to deal with the solicitors on the record. The solicitors on the record are saying, ‘We are not ready to disclose yet, we want an extension.’ So that places-

MR BROWNE: Well therefore-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -that places professionally-

MR BROWNE: -didn’t even-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -Moon Beever in a very difficult position, because they are getting information from two sources, from you personally and from your solicitors. Professionally they are supposed to turn to your solicitors and say, ‘We are dealing with you. What is going on?’ So that is the problem.

MR BROWNE: So, this is quite amazing to me. At the time prior, prior to this case on 6th September, right, I supplied all this information to Rothera’s. Rothera’s said they couldn’t do anything more for me-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne.

MR BROWNE: Yes?

JUDGE GODSMARK: I am going to stop you there and Mr Mayfield will know why, because you are about to talk about things that have passed between you and your solicitor, and they are privileged, and I should not have to get involved with that at all. And it is not relevant. You are asking why it is that Moon Beever did not comply with the order of District Judge Millard. From Moon Beever’s point of view they have got your solicitors saying to them, ‘We are not ready.’

MR BROWNE: But that doesn’t mean to say Moon Beever are not ready, does it?

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, but disclosure is supposed to be mutual, at the same time.

MR BROWNE: Well, either Moon Beever have got to admit that they had disclosure on 6th September, according to the order.

JUDGE GODSMARK: They got your list of documents on the 6th, that is right.

MR BROWNE: So-

JUDGE GODSMARK: But where is this-

MR BROWNE: -respond-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -where does this take us?

MR BROWNE: Pardon?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Where does this take us? I mean, you are saying that the problem lies in Moon Beever’s original failure to comply with the order of District Judge Millard.

MR BROWNE: Well that’s the way I read it, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Now-

MR BROWNE: That’s the way I took it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -and I am saying well part of the problem with that is that your own solicitors are saying, ‘We are not ready to comply with the order of District Judge Millard.’

MR BROWNE: So that means Moon Beever don’t have to reply either?

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, what normally happens in these circumstances is that the parties agree an extension of time.

MR BROWNE: I never agreed an extension of time.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, your solicitor, well, I am sorry, Mr Browne but the solicitors then acting for you asked for it.

MR BROWNE: In effect, Sir, those solicitors never acted for me-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, they did, they were on the court record. They were on as your solicitors.

MR BROWNE: They may very well have been, Sir, but-

JUDGE GODSMARK: I-

MR BROWNE: -they’d already been sacked-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well-

MR BROWNE: -and they knew that.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -they did not come off the record until much after that.

MR BROWNE: Well, that was-

JUDGE GODSMARK: So that is, that is the reason why you saying, ‘If only Moon Beever had complied with the order of District Judge Millard we would not be here.’ It is not as straightforward as that.

MR BROWNE: Well, I never received this documentation from my solicitor. Am I just to be ignored?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that is a matter between you and your solicitors. All that we can do is look at it from the outside.

MR BROWNE: So you have a letter from my solicitors saying, ‘We need more time’?

JUDGE GODSMARK: No, I have got-

MR BROWNE: Is that correct?

JUDGE GODSMARK: -I have got the statement from Moon Beever saying that they were asked.

MR BALDING: Your Honour, if it helps, the email-

JUDGE GODSMARK: It is an email? I could not remember whether it was an email.

MR BROWNE: Is there any documentation to this effect?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, there is.

MR BALDING: It’s page 103 of the bundle.

JUDGE GODSMARK: 103? I have just left my, I have left my note in my room. Just stay put while I get it.

[Pause]

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, it was 5th September they sent an email.

MR BROWNE: My solicitor sent an email?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BALDING: If it helps, Your Honour, I can pass over my email so-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes, although it is in the statement so, page 103 from Lewis Hastie?

MR BROWNE: I really don’t know anything about that, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, I am-

MR BROWNE: At any time.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well that is unfortunate, Mr Browne, but as I say, looking at it from the outside, I mean, that is part of the problem with the Millard order in that we have got it on an email from your own solicitor saying, ‘Unlikely that we will be ready to exchange disclosure list tomorrow. Brief extension of time may be required. We trust that this will be acceptable.’

MR BROWNE: I don’t doubt I should have to sue Rothera’s.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well-

MR BROWNE: Because this is quite crazy, I never knew a thing about this. As a matter of fact, the only information they gave me was they were not prepared to act for me anymore, and I was quite happy with that to be the case. So basically they have taken too much upon themselves and were anticipating my instructions.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that may or may not be the case, Mr Browne, but looking at this case, the British Gas case, that is all I am concerned with and when you say, and you have said it a couple times now, ‘If only Moon Beever had complied with the Millard order.’

MR BROWNE: Yes, Sir.

JUDGE GODSMARK: ‘We would not be here.’ As I say, it is not as simple as that. Now, it seems that you were not aware of what your own solicitors were doing. Alright. But I simply say it is not as straightforward as you seem to have thought it was.

MR BROWNE: Well, but it doesn’t explain why Moon Beever were 99 days with the cheque.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, that is a different issue.

MR BROWNE: But it is part of the order from Millard.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: It’s part of the order. But if that’s to be, you’re saying that there, was there any more communication with Rothera’s after that?

JUDGE GODSMARK: I am not aware of any, but then I am, well, they were commit, I think they were, yes there were communications with Rothera’s after that because at that stage Rothera’s, Moon Beever were trying to find out how they should be talking to, whether they should be talking to you personally or whether they should be talking to Rothera’s.

MR BROWNE: I had already informed Moon Beever to talk to me.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, until Rothera’s come off the record, they are the solicitors acting for you. But, Mr Browne, I am bound to say, you are saying all of this goes back to the order of District Judge Millard.

MR BROWNE: I do believe that to be the case.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I do not think it does. I think this is all about the hearings before District Judge Hale and Deputy District Judge Roberts.

MR BROWNE: Well, can I just ask therefore, Your Honour, as to why was I not informed by Hale about this?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, he was-

MR BROWNE: He was a representative, there from, from Moon Beever.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well-

MR BROWNE: They didn’t say anything about this.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -it was in the application-

MR BROWNE: [Inaudible].

JUDGE GODSMARK: I am sorry, but it was, this was in the documents that were sent to you. It is in the application notice and it is also I think in the witness statement of Steven Elsey. So this was all in the papers that were available and served for the application before District Judge Hale.

MR BROWNE: I never received anything like that. Never received it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, they were the application papers.

MR BROWNE: It does appear on the face of it, Sir, that my own solicitors have outmanoeuvred me and there-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, let us get back, shall we, to any response that you want to make to the points that Mr Balding has made.

MR BROWNE: Just one comment about that, Sir. Why did they not supply my solicitor with a list, with their own list? They didn’t do it. But yet because people not acting on my behalf or in my interests made a statement to them, but that didn’t stop them from doing it, did it? Would that be correct, Sir?

JUDGE GODSMARK: You just tell, make the points you want to make-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -Mr Browne.

MR BROWNE: Yes.

[Pause]

MR BROWNE: I’ve got to refer to what he mentioned about not enough time. I don’t know what timetable he’s referring to. There isn’t a timetable. He said there isn’t enough time to go to London and this type of thing. It is quite amazing that they were, they’re now in a big hurry but the years 2007 to 2011 they weren’t in a hurry at all. They kept it up for four years. Now the situation is 2011 to 2014, and we’re still no further forward. And in the Roberts case he effectively moved the goalposts to suit British Gas, and as far as the transfer is concerned there is no [inaudible] from a costs point of view, it’s much cheaper for them down there and currently we have that man coming from, from London at a very great expense so all I’m asking, Sir, now is that this matter be transferred to London forthwith, and also as well, Sir, I think that all this stuff that Rothera’s have dropped me in the cart in no uncertain terms. And-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne, I-

MR BROWNE: -I don’t know really what to say about that to be quite honest-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well-

MR BROWNE: -because I, it’s a total surprise to me.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -Mr Browne, I can see that you are somewhat taken aback by this, and so what I am going to do, I am going to rise for a couple of minutes so you can get your head round it and have a think about it, and see if there is anything you want to say to me about it, and I will make sure that you have got a copy of this little email passage that is with the application. I think I have got one, even if Mr Balding does not have one available. So-

MR BROWNE: I think maybe more time than that, Sir, because-

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well-

MR BROWNE: -I want-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -there cannot be that much more time because-

MR BROWNE: Yes.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -I want to conclude this today. But you can certainly have a couple of minutes to have a look at it, but I am bound to say if it helps you, Mr Browne, I know you put a lot of store about what happened in response to the Judge Millard order and I can understand that, and it is not without importance, but the most important part of it is what has happened before District Judge Hale and Deputy District Judge Roberts. But I will give you a few moments, because I can see you are slightly taken aback by this, so I will give you a few moments to gather your thoughts.

MR BROWNE: Fine. I can’t believe this one at all.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Right.

MR BROWNE: I mean, particularly when Rothera’s were telling me to get lost.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Let me find you a copy of the application notices, when we see it.

MR BROWNE: Why didn’t Moon Beever advise me about this when I made the application?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well because it was in their application, I suspect. Let us have a look. That is the application notice from Moon Beever dated 11th November and I have folded it back at the email string which has got at the bottom of it your own solicitors’ email. So have a look at that. I am going to rise for five minutes and then you can gather your thoughts, Mr Browne.

Court rises.

Court resumes at 2.40pm.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Mr Browne, the only thing that I would add and it occurred to me just after I had left, this should not have come as too much of a surprise to you because it was referred to in the hearing before District Judge Hale, in your presence. It is on the transcript-

MR BROWNE: I don’t remember that.

JUDGE GODSMARK: -on the transcript. Anyway, what else do you wish to say?

MR BROWNE: Well, I’m only presuming of course that I can’t remember these being mentioned by Hale. Is this on the transcript? Is it really?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes-

MR BROWNE: Where they state that they’ve already emailed, they’ve already received an email from Rothera’s stating they wanted more time?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Yes.

MR BROWNE: And does that necessarily excuse them for not obeying the order?

MR BALDING: Your Honour, it’s referred to at page 10 of the transcript.

JUDGE GODSMARK: 10 is it? Thank you. It’s page 10 line 17.

MR BROWNE: Okay, but does that really excuse them from not obeying the order themselves?

JUDGE GODSMARK: That is where they give an indication of what had passed from Rothera’s to them. Now, I said, that appeared to have taken you by surprise but in fact on checking I can see that it also came up and was mentioned in front of you during the course of the hearing before District Judge Hale.

MR BROWNE: What’s the page number again?

JUDGE GODSMARK: 10.

[Pause]

MR BROWNE: Ah yes, there we are. It’s there, reference disputed, but I, I still say that doesn’t give them the right to disobey the order.

JUDGE GODSMARK: I have got that point, yes.

MR BROWNE: And I would also add that, I’d also add that, yes, that this transcript of, of, of Hale’s, right, was not approved by him and also as well, as I, as, it’s not complete in itself in any case, right? Could that have been added in later? Because I said to myself at the time that that transcript has been doctored, and you’ve actually proved to me that it hasn’t. So I can only, I really assume, Sir, that we must arrive at the conclusion that you’re certainly not going to strike it out. Would that be reasonable?

JUDGE GODSMARK: Well, I have not made my mind up about anything at the moment-

MR BROWNE: Well, also-

JUDGE GODSMARK: -Mr Browne.

MR BROWNE: -it, I think this in a way reinforces my desire to have this matter transferred. Now as to, I still say that the treatment I received by McHale, Hale, was biased. I still say that because when this thing was done I can’t remember him saying that. It doesn’t come out to me [in my mind?]. But the transcript says it’s right. Now, well, I don’t think there’s any way that I can say that I’m not telling the truth. I’m telling the truth of the behaviour of that judge. Is it normal for a judge to say, ‘I remember you’? It’s not, is it? And he was malicious with me from the start, and the same thing applied with Roberts. Now, possibly in the circumstances it’s going to be a little bit difficult, I appreciate, for, for my appeal against them but I think that they were definitely out of order, and why, why, yes, I don’t know, it’s lost me, this one, I’m totally bemused by this. It seems to me like there’s a conspiracy against me here and Rothera’s are involved in it.

JUDGE GODSMARK: Thank you, Mr Browne. Anything else?

MR BROWNE: No, I don’t think I can add any more, Your Honour.

JUDGE GODSMARK: What I am going to do, I am going to rise, give some thoughts to what both sides have said, make some notes for a judgment. I will aim to give judgment in these matters as soon after 3.15pm as I can. Can you, by all means go and stretch your legs until 3.15; if you can be back here ready from 3.15, as soon as I am ready after that I will come back into court. Thank you both very much.

Court rises.

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