High Court Decision in Riniker v Al-Turk: Analysis of Procedural Rules and Relief from Sanctions in Civil Litigation

Citation: [2023] EWHC 2910 (KB)
Judgment on


The High Court of Justice, King’s Bench Division, has delivered a judgment in the matter of Ursula Riniker v Mostapha Al-Turk which examines the application of procedural rules and the principles for relief from sanctions in civil litigation. This article will analyze the judgment rendered by Mrs. Justice Ellenbogen, focusing on key topics, legal principles, outcomes, and implications of the decision.

Key Facts

The appellant, Ursula Riniker, challenged the order of Her Honour Judge Baucher which struck out her appeal against an interim charging order made final by Deputy District Judge Morley. The original appeal was permitted by Judge Martin Spencer, but subsequent non-compliance with orders by HHJ Luba KC led to the strike out. Riniker maintained that her non-compliance was due to her belief that her application to set aside parts of HHJ Luba’s order, under CPR 3.3(5)(a), was valid even though it did not conform to Part 23 of the CPR. Riniker also contended that the application did not require the usual form N244 nor an application fee.

Applicability of CPR 3.3(5)(a)

Riniker’s application under CPR 3.3(5)(a) was a focal point of legal discussion. The rule provides that a party affected by an order made of the court’s initiative may apply to have it set aside or varied. The court held that an application must comply with Part 23, dismissing Riniker’s argument that her email application was sufficient. However, Mrs. Justice Ellenbogen found that Judge Baucher erred in not addressing the procedural defect in Riniker’s application to set aside parts of the Luba Order, which could have been waived, pursuant to CPR 3.10, considering the errors were minor and caused no prejudice.

Relief from Sanctions

Ellenbogen J further analyzed the application of the principles laid out in Denton v TH White Limited and the appropriateness of Baucher J’s decision not to grant relief from sanctions to Riniker. The ‘Denton test’ requires (1) assessing the seriousness and significance of the breach, (2) considering why the default occurred, and (3) evaluating all the circumstances of the case to deal justly with the application. Baucher J had failed to fully consider the merits and reasons behind Riniker’s non-compliance before deeming relief from sanctions necessary, leading to a legal misstep.

Proportionality and Disposal of Appeals

The judgment by Ellenbogen J reflects the importance of proportionality in sanctioning non-compliance. It was found that striking out the appeal was too severe without first examining the proportionality of that sanction.


Mrs. Justice Ellenbogen’s decision allowed Riniker’s appeal against Baucher J’s order, reinstated the substantive appeal against DDJ Morley, and mandated the listing of Riniker’s application to set aside parts of the Luba Order for a full hearing. This aligns with the principle that a litigant must have the opportunity to be heard and a decision on non-compliance should not trump a substantive review of their case.


The judgment in Riniker v Al-Turk serves to reiterate that procedural errors that do not prejudice the other party may often be remedied to prevent substantive miscarriage of justice. The application of CPR 3.3(5)(a) must adhere to procedural requirements unless an explicit exception exists. Further, the judgment demonstrates that while courts maintain discretion in granting relief from sanctions, any decision must be grounded in the three-stage Denton test and bear an eye to the proportionality and the overriding objective of doing justice. The outcome underlines the court’s preference for resolving disputes on their merits rather than on procedural technicalities.