Procedural Compliance and Litigants in Person: Key Issues in Greenwood v Pringle [2024] EWHC 84 (Ch)

Citation: [2024] EWHC 84 (Ch)
Judgment on


The case of John Kenneth Greenwood & Anor v Ronald Patrick Pringle [2024] EWHC 84 (Ch) offers an insightful exploration of the procedural intricacies involved in appellate litigation, particularly concerning statutory demands, litigants in person, and compliance with procedural rules. This analysis will dissect the judgment provided by HHJ Paul Matthews, delineating the key topics and legal principles illuminated in the case. It serves as a vital reference for legal practitioners to understand the court’s stance on extensions of time, permission to appeal, and expectations from litigants in person.

Key Facts

The appellants, Mr. and Mrs. Greenwood, sold their company and the associated pub business to Mr. Pringle, but claimed they were not paid for the transaction. They lodged a statutory demand for unpaid contractual redundancy payments awarded by the Employment Tribunal, which Mr. Pringle successfully applied to set aside, leading to a costs order against the Greenwoods. When those costs were unpaid, Mr. Pringle secured a charging order on the Greenwoods’ property.

The Greenwoods sought to appeal the set-aside decision, but did so improperly and out of time, leading to procedural complications. They failed to file the correct appellant’s notice within the prescribed timeframe, did not provide a UK address for service, and did not deliver a transcript of the original judgment despite the court’s direction.

Extension of Time and Permission to Appeal

The case emphasizes the criticality of adhering to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), particularly rules 52.3(1) and 52.6, which set the criteria for obtaining permission to appeal and mandate a ‘real prospect of success’ or a compelling reason for the appeal to be heard.

HHJ Matthews applied the three-tiered Denton test, as per R (Hysaj) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 1633, to evaluate whether an extension for filing the appellant’s notice should be granted. The test involves assessing:

  1. The seriousness of the breach,
  2. The explanation for the breach, and
  3. All circumstances of the case.

Expectations from Litigants in Person

In light of Barton v Wright Hassall [2018] 1 WLR 1119, the Greenwoods’ status as litigants in person did not excuse their non-compliance with procedural rules. HHJ Matthews echoed this principle, emphasizing that ignorance of the lawful procedures does not exempt a party from adhering to them.

Statutory Demands and Disputed Debts

The judgment reiterates the established principle that a statutory demand is inappropriate for debts bona fide disputed on substantial grounds, aligning with the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016, rule 10.5(5).


HHJ Matthews denied the Greenwoods an immediate extension of time for filing the appellant’s notice, instead issuing an “unless” order. This order conditions any potential extension and permission to appeal on the Greenwoods’ compliance with court directions by a specified date. Failure to comply would result in automatic dismissal of their applications.


The judgment underscores stringent compliance with procedural rules and the consequences of failing to do so. It also reaffirms the court’s unwillingness to show leniency to litigants in person on procedural matters, reiterating that everyone is subject to the same standards irrespective of their legal representation status. The case serves as a cautionary tale for litigants to seek legal advice before engaging in legal actions and highlights the court’s focus on streamlining the legal process to avoid unnecessary complexities and costs.