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Dogs’ legal action against top law firm and bank struck out

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Goldie and Diamond blocked from suing Shoosmiths and HSBC by judge

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Two dogs called Goldie and Diamond have had a claim made on their behalf struck out by the High Court in a legal battle between their owner, banking giant HSBC and national law firm Shoosmiths.

Sabrina Moosun, who had her home in South Bucks possessed by HSBC in 2011, named her dogs as parties to a claim that was filed on 21 September 2015.

In litigation stretching back to 2009, she alleges that HSBC and its solicitors, Shoosmiths, had breached the right to respect for private and family life enjoyed by her, her two young children and her, er, dogs.

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The legal basis for this is cited as the Equality Act 2010 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Amazed to see that canine duo Goldie and Diamond were suing them, HSBC applied for the claim to be struck out last month.

This left Mr Justice Snowden — sitting in the Chancery Division of the High Court earlier this month — with the somewhat unusual task of deciding whether Goldie and Diamond could continue as parties to the claim.

Snowden’s judgment contains some surreal paragraphs. It begins with him noting the decision of Moosun and the other claimants not to attend court in person, as he states deadpan:

Mrs. Moosun did not appear and neither do any of the other persons and animals named as claimants in the proceedings.

Next he introduces the issue of the dogs more formally:

That claim is sought to be brought by Mrs. Moosun, her two infant children, and two dogs who are identified as Goldie, aged 18 months, and Diamond, aged 2 years.

Finally, while analysing the previous submissions of Claudia Wilmot-Smith of Quadrant Chambers, who was representing the bank at the hearing, he considers the law surrounding the naming animals as parties to claims:

Miss Wilmot-Smith also makes the obvious point that dogs are not capable of bringing legal proceedings. Among other things, CPR Part 2.3(1) defines “claimant” as a person who makes a claim, and a dog is not a person. I also cannot see how a dog could give instructions for a claim to be brought on its behalf or be liable for any orders made against it. There are a whole host of other reasons why proceedings by dogs must be void, and accordingly I am satisfied that in so far as the claim purports to be made on behalf of the two dogs it should also be struck out.

The dogs weren’t the only unsuccessful ones. The claims made on behalf of Moosun’s children were also dismissed because no order had been made permitting them to bring proceedings and she had failed to arrange litigation friends for the pair.

But the flaws in the case ran deeper. Certainly, Moosun’s cause wasn’t helped by her failure to provide any particulars of claim.

Accordingly, the ambitious legal bid — valued at £5.5 million — was struck out in its entirety, alongside a related earlier one that featured no animal claimants.

Proof that Snowden J wasn’t seeing the funny side of all of this came in his response to HSBC’s application for a civil restraint order against Moosun — which he granted in extended form.

The judge explained his reasoning as follows:

In these circumstances it seems to me that Mrs Moosun is one of those very rare litigants for whom an extended civil restraint order would not be sufficient or appropriate, and that it is necessary to make a general civil restraint order against her.

The order, which is reversed for only the most extreme cases, applies to all the County Courts and the High Court. The result of this means Moosun will have to seek the permission of a judge to bring any further civil proceedings over the next two years. If she chooses to ignore the order, she will be in contempt of court and may even receive a prison sentence.

Moosun has previous litigation experience that extends beyond this spat with her bank. For example, earlier this year she attempted to have Boris Johnson brought before the courts, arguing that as Mayor of London he could not legally stand for election as an MP in his local constituency of Uxbridge & South Ruislip.

Moosun, who was running against Johnson as a candidate for the Communities United Party, had her application refused by a District Judge at Westminster Magistrates Court. She reportedly went on to receive just 52 votes, while Johnson secured victory with 22,511.

Legal Cheek was unable to reach Goldie or Diamond for comment.

Dogs fail to sue law firm: Read the judgment in full below:

Sabrina Shafika Moosun v HSBC