Cost of grudge cases against judiciary doubles

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The Independent Online

The cost to the taxpayer of defending vexatious legal actions against the Lord Chancellor and the judiciary has almost doubled since Labour cameto power.

The cost to the taxpayer of defending vexatious legal actions against the Lord Chancellor and the judiciary has almost doubled since Labour came to power.

In the past five years, £2.3m has been spent to defeat 400 claims brought by disgruntled or obsessive litigants. The Lord Chancellor has lost eight cases, all in employment tribunals.

Most of the claims are brought by people with grudges against the courts, the judges who decided their case, or even Lord Irvine himself. The cost of defending these claims has risen from £380,000 in 1997-98 to £630,000 last year.

A spokeswoman for the Lord Chancellor's Department said of the litigants: "In the vast majority of cases they are not happy with the judgment they have got. Some have named individual members of staff or even judges. But they all have to be defended in the name of the department."

The Government relies increasingly on vexatious litigation orders to stem the tide. Such orders require those on whom they are served to seek permission from a judge before they can bring a new action.