High Court Strikes Out Claim in Seema Ashraf v Attarian & Ors for Abuse of Process

Citation: [2023] EWHC 2800 (Ch)
Judgment on


The High Court of Justice in the case of Seema Ashraf v Attarian & Ors has provided a detailed exposition on the conduct of litigation and the principles surrounding abuse of process. This case serves as a pertinent illustration of the court’s application of procedural rules to ensure the just, fair, and efficient resolution of legal disputes. Through a close analysis of the legal principles applied, this article will highlight the key factors that led to the striking out of the claimant’s case and the dismissal of the claim against the Claimant Land Registry (CLR).

Key Facts

The claimant, as the executrix of a deceased estate, pursued a claim for an indemnity against the CLR concerning the allegedly forged transfer of property. Procedurally, the claimant adjusted her statement of case multiple times, including alternative factual positions, without a clear evidential basis. These modifications appeared to respond to the challenges posed by the CLR’s defensive arguments. The CLR challenged these adjustments, arguing abuse of process and lack of prospects for the claimant’s success. Mrs Justice Joanna Smith critically evaluated the claimant’s vacillating approach, the absence of a coherent evidential foundation, and the misuse of the court’s process.

In adjudicating this matter, the court applied several key legal principles:

Abuse of Process

Abuse of process was a central issue, defined as the use of court proceedings for a purpose significantly different from their ordinary and proper use. In this case, the claimant’s inconsistent pleadings were a major factor considered as abusive, particularly the signing of conflicting statements of truth without substantive explanation or evidential change. This led to the finding that the case was an abuse of process, justifying its striking out in accordance with CPR 3.4(2)(b).

Doctrine of Approbation and Reprobation (Blowing Hot and Cold)

The court considered the doctrine of approbation and reprobation, which precludes a party from “blowing hot and cold” by advancing inconsistent arguments in the same proceedings. This was particularly evident with the claimant’s alterations of the factual basis of her claims, which impeded the CLR’s ability to prepare a coherent defense.

The Overriding Objective

The overriding objective under CPR 1.1 emphasizes the fair and efficient administration of justice, saving expense, and ensuring that a case is dealt with proportionately. The claimant’s handling of the case was deemed contrary to these principles, having not progressed beyond the pleadings stage over an extensive period.

Summary Judgment and Strike Out for No Real Prospect of Success

CPR 3.4(2)(a) and CPR 24.2 were also relevant, as they relate to dismissing cases with no real prospect of success. Although the claimant’s most recent statement of case was not technically the subject of the CLR’s application (which was made with reference to an earlier version of the pleadings), the court noted that a strike out on these grounds would likely have been justified due to the lack of a clear evidential basis.


The outcome of this case is the striking out of the claimant’s statement of case and the dismissal of the claim against the CLR. Mrs Justice Joanna Smith found the claim to be an abuse of the court’s process and noted the delays and costs incurred, ultimately concluding that the continuing adjustments to the claimant’s case precluded fair adjudication.


Seema Ashraf v Attarian & Ors underscores the necessity for clarity, consistency, and honesty in litigation. The court’s determination illustrates the principled application of procedural rules to thwart dilatory and disingenuous practices. The case reinforces the importance of the overriding objective and the responsibility of claimants to conduct litigation with coherence and integrity. This judgment serves as an unequivocal message to legal practitioners regarding the boundaries of permissible conduct in presenting and amending cases before the courts.