Success in the Court of Appeal for Boys & Maughan's Matt Champ

On 17 December 2020, Margate Litigation Partner Matt Champ, along with Stuart Snow of Stour Chambers, attended the Court of Appeal to respond to an appeal lodged in the matter of Boys & Maughan v Gary Moore (“Mr Moore”).

Mr Moore was appealing a finding by HHJ Catherine Brown at Canterbury County Court on 27 August 2020 that he was in contempt of court on three grounds related to his wilful and deliberate failure to answer questions concerning the location of his assets against which Boys & Maughan wished to enforce numerous costs orders obtained against him. HHJ Brown sentenced Mr Moore to eight weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months.

Mr Moore appealed to the Court of Appeal on numerous grounds including 1) that he was disabled due to suffering from depression and PTSD 2) He had not had a fair hearing and, finally, the underlying judgment obtained against him was wrong and had been obtained by the court being apparently deceived. All of these grounds were considered and rejected emphatically by HHJ Brown in her judgment on 27 August 2020.

The appeal was heard before Davis LJ and Nugee LJ in which Mr Moore made his submissions in writing, his inability to talk apparently being a symptom of his alleged disability, which was responded to by Mr Snow on Matt’s instruction.

Nugee LJ gave the lead judgment in which he said (paraphrased):

The Appellant has made various claims against the Claimant in which the Claimant have apparently mislead the court, acted negligently or otherwise acted inappropriately in securing the numerous orders against him. Even if we assume that was true, it would not be relevant. The simple fact is that court orders were made and, until appealed or set aside, they must be complied with. It is, of course, entirely proper to note that Respondent to this appeal does not agree with what the Appellant says and, in addition, it must also be noted that the Appellant did try to set aside the judgment in question in July 2019. Not only did Deputy District Judge Ashley reject the Appellant’s application but also imposed a limited civil restraint order against the Appellant.

It is clear from HHJ Brown’s thorough and well-reasoned judgment that HHJ Brown went to get great lengths to ensure that the Appellant had a fair hearing. I note HHJ Brown’s comments about the Appellant being an intelligent man who clearly understood what was required of him and, also, HHJ Brown’s view that the Appellant’s purported inability to speak was a deliberate ploy rather than a manifestation of a psychological issue.

Accordingly, there is nothing in the documentation or the papers that have been handed up today that shows that the decision of HHJ Brown was wrong or that she was not entitled to find as she did.

Accordingly, I would dismiss the appeal.

Davis LJ also added further to his agreeing with Nugee LJ’s judgment:

This appeal is not designed for Mr Moore to re-argue his case all over again. Indeed, Mr Moore’s requests underlie how flawed his approach is. Clearly, he bitterly resents the conduct of the Claimant firm and he has taken the view that they were negligent and taken the view that they have been invasive in the proceedings to recover the costs and the enforcement thereafter. That is nothing to the point. The point is, orders of the court were made. It is not for Mr Moore to refuse to comply because he does not agree with those orders. Those orders were never successfully appealed. He has to comply. Judge Brown found him in contempt. Mr Moore clearly understands his position. He must comply and it is no good him saying that he does not agree. If he does not comply, he will not only continue to incur further costs liabilities but he may find that the suspended sentence is activated. He should be careful to avoid such consequences. He should now comply but for the reasons given, I do dismiss the appeal.

I am prepared to note Mr Moore’s applications for stays and the like as being totally without merit. Also, for what it’s worth, although the court cannot say that the appeal itself was totally without merit as Mr Moore has the automatic right to appeal to this court after being found to be in contempt, were it not for that provision then I would be minded to also say that the appeal itself was totally without merit.  

Matt Champ says:

“It is always nice to have such a senior court recognise that our actions were justified and legally correct, which is what we have maintained throughout and with which numerous judges have agreed throughout this process. It goes to show that trying to ‘play the system’ does not work and there will come a point when trying to be clever with compliance of court orders, regardless of the reason, can and will get you into very serious trouble.”

Matt Champ can be contacted on 01843 234000 or by email.

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