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17 Jun 2021

Debt Recovery

Yes Prime Minister – Part 4

Earlier this year, it was widely reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson (the “PM”) had a Judgement in Default entered against him, which was swiftly ‘Set Aside’ and ‘Struck Out’ soon after it was discovered.

In the final part of our blog series, Associate William Watkins, who head up our debt recovery team, looks at what happens after Judgement is set aside.

Striking Out a Claim

In our previous blog we looked at the process of applying to Set Aside Judgement. In the case of the PM, in addition to applying to Set Aside Judgement, he also applied to Strike Out the Claimant’s Claim. A party can apply to Strike Out Claims where they believe that the other side’s case is so weak, and has so little merit that it would be a waste of time for the matter to proceed to Trial. The Court can Strike Out on Application for the following 3 reasons;

Strike Out On The Merits

If it is deemed that the other side’s case is so weak that is has no prospect of success, then the Court can Strike Out the Claim. To be successful on this point, the other side’s case must have no prospects. Case law suggests that a Claim will be held to have prospects if it is “more than arguable”, a similar test that the Court applies when considering to Set Aside Judgement for having realistic prospects.

Strike Out as an abuse of Court Process

An abuse of Court process is purposefully not defined to allow the Court to apply it widely based on the facts presented.  In this case, the PM may have chosen to argue, that the Claim should be Struck Out as the Claimant did not issue it due a to a genuine dispute, but rather, for other reasons not related to the alleged issues.  This could be defined as an abuse of Court Process.

Strike Out for a breach of the Court Rules

Finally the Court can Strike Out a Claim, where there has been a breach of the Court Rules.  This option is there so that if there are repeated, serious and ongoing breaches by one party, the Court has the option to apply the heaviest sanction to their Claim.  It is unsure if there were breaches of the Court Rules in the PM’s case, but it is very unlikely that the Court would have Struck Out on this rule alone, unless there had been repeated, serious and ongoing breaches, as outlined above.  The Court’s overall aim is to achieve justice and it is unlikely Striking Out a Claim for a minor or one off breach would be in the interest of justice.

The Court’s power’s to Strike Out may be applied, but the Court may disincline to apply them.  If the Court believes that justice can be achieved in a different way, such as allowing a Claim Form to be amended, or punishing a rule breach by ordering the other side to pay costs, then the Court will usually apply that.


William Watkins is a specialist in debt recovery and commercial litigation. He heads up the Debt Recovery team within our Dispute Resolution department at Harding Evans. Get in touch on 01633 244233 or hello@hevans.com.

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