Court of Appeal Corrects Procedural Irregularities in Landmark Case, Upholding Fundamental Principles of Justice

Citation: [2024] EWCA Civ 94
Judgment on

Introduction

The case of Rezq Allah Koro v County Court at Central London is a noteworthy judicial decision that delves deep into procedural law, particularly regarding the consequences of defective service, the applicability of judicial review, the right to a fair hearing, and the authority of court orders. The Court of Appeal’s judgment, which corrects a series of administrative and judicial mishandlings, reaffirms the fundamental principles in the administration of justice, highlighting the significance of addressing procedural irregularities.

Key Facts

The appellant, Rezq Allah Koro, a refugee, sought to challenge the discontinuance of a private prosecution against a Mr. Zakaria by issuing Part 7 claim proceedings against the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Due to errors, including an asserted failure of service on the CPS and subsequent mismanagement by the County Court at Central London (CLCC), Koro’s claims were struck out without an oral hearing on two occasions, referred to as Avent 1 and Avent 2 orders. These procedural complications extended over a period, during which time the appellant was denied the opportunity for a hearing on the substance or merits of his claim.

Defective Service and its Consequences

The Court of Appeal underscores that proceedings properly issued and constituted exist regardless of whether or not they have been properly served. The legal procedure for disputing the court’s jurisdiction due to service irregularities is laid out by CPR Part 11, which requires a defendant wishing to challenge jurisdiction to first file an acknowledgment of service and then apply to the court within a specified period. Here, the CPS did not follow the said procedure, making their challenge to service questionable.

Right to a Fair Hearing

The judgment reaffirms that the right to a fair hearing, a fundamental principle of justice, ensures that a party must be allowed to present their case orally in court. This principle is entrenched in both domestic law and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Any deviation from this principle could potentially lead to a denial of justice.

Authority of Court Orders

The judgment cites R (Majera) v SSHD [2021] UKSC 46 to assert that even legally ineffective orders, like Avent 2, should not be considered nullities but are duty-bound to be obeyed until set aside. This upholds the importance of the rule of law and the authority that court orders possess to ensure lawful adherence.

Applicability of Judicial Review

The case also references R (Sivasubramaniam) v Wandsworth County Court, setting out the grounds upon which judicial review is available against certain judicial decisions. Judicial review can be sought in exceptional circumstances, where there has been a jurisdictional error in the narrow sense or procedural irregularity equating to a denial of the right to a fair hearing.

Challenges to Orders and Directions

Wrongly asserting that an appeal cannot proceed against a direction rather than a sealed court order, the judgment in Anwer v Central Bridging Loans Ltd clarifies that a formal order is not a prerequisite for an appeal to proceed—what is essential is that there must be a determination or a conclusive decision issued by the court.

Outcomes

The Court of Appeal rectifies the procedural errors by:

  • Granting permission for the appeal against the decision of the Deputy Judge.
  • Quashing the decision of the Deputy Judge, thereby allowing the appellant’s judicial review proceedings.
  • Recommending the listing of the appellant’s application (3 March 2021) against Avent 1 for a hearing.
  • Proposing that Avent 2 and subsequent procedural steps be set aside as legally ineffective.

Conclusion

The Court of Appeal decision in Rezq Allah Koro v County Court at Central London encapsulates several critical tenets of procedural fairness and administrative justice. Errors in service, the right to a hearing, proper actions by representing parties, and adherence to set legal processes are cornerstone principles that govern the fair dispensation of justice. This judgment, by addressing procedural missteps and clarifying applicable legal principles, serves as a clarion call for courts to meticulously uphold these principles to prevent denial of justice.

Related Summaries