Here is a letter I have sent to the district judge regarding the court case I mentioned above:
Claim number OL202725 Oldham County Court 26 April 2007
We would be grateful if you would please put this letter before the District Judge as a matter of urgency.
Solicitor and County Court Judge Ian Brown, of Lomax Geddes, has wasted court time and caused extreme anxiety to Susan May in his relentless pursuit of payment for a bill of £2,700.
Not only do we contest the legitimacy of this bill, but it is our belief Mr Brown failed to act in Mrs May's best interests as her solicitor - a point which we will be raising with the Solicitors' regulation Authority - and that he has subsequently abused the court process and taking unfair advantage of his position as a solicitor and Deputy District Judge to hound Mrs May for payment.
WASTING COURT TIME
As a judge and solicitor, Mr Brown has a duty to the courts, and we are astounded that he should have considered it proportionate to bring a staggering 12 court applications against Mrs May over the past seven years for this relatively small amount of money – when compared to the vast cost of the wasted hours of court time not to mention his endless stream of correspondence. Mr Brown has shown a blatant disregard of the Civil Procedure Rules and more particularly the Overriding Objective. We submit that he has taken advantage of Mrs May's inability to instruct her own solicitor and her lack of knowledge of the court's process and procedures.
The Court has acknowledged that Mr Brown's actions have been over muscular. Despite this, Mr Brown has continued his pursuance against Mrs May.
Mr Brown was refused his request to place a sale order on Mrs May's house – which he already has a final charging order on – by Judge Fox at Oldham County Court on 13 September 2006. The judge questioned why Mr Brown had brought the hearing since no circumstances had changed since the final charging order was granted.
The Court also refused Mr Brown's application for a second order to be placed on Mrs May's other property, which was tenanted until last month by a 92-year-old lady paying £15 per week out of which Mrs May paid water rates and other expenses.
To ask the court to order that Mrs May sells her house, lose her future security and only source of income, (except her £70 pension) just to satisfy a demand for £2,700 is a nonsense. To waste the court's precious resources in pursuant of the applications is not reasonable, proportionate or just, and Mr Brown's insistence on this line of action is at best seriously misguided and at worst a campaign of harassment and bullying.
MR BROWN'S FAILURES TO ACCEPT INVITATIONS TO RESOLVE THE DISPUTE WITHOUT COURT INTERVENTION
Mrs May has offered, in correspondence and in court, to pay the bill in instalments, which Mr Brown has refused (see enclosed letter dated 8 December 2005, where he writes: "There is no acceptable rate to us. We wish to be paid in full…".
She had taken it upon herself to make payments of £10 per month for over a year before stopping after receipt of this letter and the Court's ruling 13 September 2006.
Mr Brown is using the current means testing application as a back door route to continue his pursuance, through the courts, of getting an additional charging order on Mrs May's second property (see enclosed letter dated 19 March 2007, where he states: "We will be content to vacate this hearing if you are prepared to give us the information as to the address of the other property. This is all we seek and we confirm that we will not be seeking to interview your tenant or correspond with your tenant unless permitted by the Court.")
The last sentence of the above mentioned letter indicates Mr Brown's intention to carry on wasting even more court time in pursuance of the sum of £2,700.
On 13 September 2006 District Judge Fox advised Mrs May she need not supply the information relating to the second property mentioned above, when he refused to grant Mr Brown a charge on the defendant's second property.
FAILURE TO ACT IN HIS CLIENT'S BEST INTERESTS
Mrs May employed Mr Brown's services as a solicitor in August 1999 as she wished to bring a negligence action against the solicitors who represented her in criminal proceedings.
A report by the OSS concluded Mrs May had a strong case for bringing a negligence claim against her trial solicitors, Mellor and Jackson, but stressed she could only open a claim after her conviction was overturned.
When the OSS solicitor passed the case to Mr Brown he was instructed to put in an application to prolong the life of the possibility to claim – instructions he went against when instead he actually submitted the claim.
Mr Brown made two glaring errors here as the claim was then ruled to have been made out of time. Mr Brown refused to appeal this decision, and Mrs May had to bring in alternative representation to successfully argue the claim to be valid (at which point the Judge criticised Mr Brown for failing to bring the relevant points up at the original Hearing).
But Mrs May was still forced to drop the claim when her appeal against conviction failed. Mr Brown's actions and failures lost Mrs May the opportunity to bring a negligence claim against Mellor and Jackson. This means that Mrs May will not be afforded the opportunity to seek redress for Mellor and Jackson's alleged negligence, which saw her wrongfully convicted.
Mr Brown obviously failed to carry out Mrs May's instructions which had drastic consequences. Further, Mr Brown failed to ensure that even basic client care requirements were fulfilled. Mr Brown still charged Mrs May for his work notwithstanding his failures.
Mr Brown issued a claim to recover the cost of his work against Mrs May. This was heard in the Stoke County Court 25 November 2002. Mr Brown admitted at that hearing that he failed to ensure that Mrs May had received his terms of business or client care letter.
At this Hearing, Mr Brown told the court he had undertaken half his work for Mrs May after sending her his care and costs letter, and accordingly Judge Chapman ordered that his bill should be halved.
Mrs May, who was serving her sentence at the time had no access to legal representation. She was in no fit state to present her case after suffering a four hour journey from prison to court in a sweat box whereupon she requested that her friend assist her as McKenzie person but was then forced to present her case double cuffed to an officer in the dock.
The representations made by Mr Brown were not correct and the court did not hear that as soon as Mr Brown sent the client care letter (after eth court ruled his service out of time) Mrs May wrote to terminate his services unless he was willing to rectify the problem caused by his failures. Mr Brown refused.
The amount Mrs May has been ordered to pay Mr Brown has continually been increased as a result of the costs of his numerous court applications.
THE COURT'S CRITICISMS OF MR BROWN'S CONDUCT
Mrs May brought in alternative representation to appeal the "out of time" ruling on Mr Brown's serving of a negligence claim against her trial solicitors. At the appeal at Oldham County Court on 12 July 2000 Judge Bloom criticised Mr Brown for failing, at the previous Court Hearing, at Oldham County Court on 2 November 1999, to identify and present well-covered legislation - had he done so, the judge said, there would have been no need for an appeal to be brought.
At Stoke On Trent County Court on 26 November 2002 Judge Chapman criticised Mr Brown for a neglect of duty in failing to inform Susan he would not be working pro bono under the same terms as Mr Jones, OSS solicitor of Jones Fitton, from whom he had taken over.
After a Hearing at Oldham County Court 28 September 2005 Judge Simpson observed that Mr Brown had made but did not pursue an application to carry the judgment to provide for instalments payments, adding that would be the usual way to determine the time for and rate of payment.
At Oldham County Court on 13 September 2006 Judge Fox dismissed Mr Brown's application for an order of sale, asking for an explanation as to why Mr Brown had applied for the Hearing when the circumstances had not changed since the last Hearing at Oldham County Court on 28 September 2004 under Judge Simpson.
Given the relatively small sum at issue, and give the time and costs spent in pursuing the debt, we have no option than to deem Mr Brown's actions as harassment. This harassment has had a severe effect on Mrs May's already fragile health – she is now on medication for depression, fearful her home could be at risk and terrified Mr Brown's continued actions could result in her being returned to prison.
This relentless pursuit is not the action expected of a Judge of the court or a member of a profession with supposedly high standards.
If Mr Brown were to be charged for his own services the bill would run to tens of thousands of pounds – a luxury Mrs May does not have.
I invite the court to take action to cease Mr Brown's continuing pursuance of payment. Mr Brown already has security for the debt by way of the charging order on Mrs May's home. In our view, Mr Brown's actions have made a mockery of the justice system, the overriding objective and the solicitors' profession.
Mrs May cannot afford legal advice. Nor would it be proportionate for her to instruct solicitors to fight a debt action of just £2,700.
Thank you in anticipation of the Court's assistance.