Student who sued law school after failing LPC twice fails to overturn vexatious litigant order

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By Thomas Connelly on

She now wants to become a barrister


A law graduate who launched a string of legal actions against the Law Society and the University of Law has failed in her bid to have a vexatious litigant order lifted as she seeks to become a barrister.

Paula Douglas commenced legal proceedings 42 times between 1997 and 2000 and another 28 times between 2001 and 2006.

The litigation, most of which had a discrimination theme, took place after the Lancaster University law graduate failed to pass the Legal Practice Course (LPC) on two occasions in the late 1990s.

Bringing County Court actions, employment tribunal claims and applications to apply for judicial review, she was deemed by the courts to be a “vexatious litigant” in both 2001 and 2006.

Fast forward to late last year, and Douglas, 53, found herself before the High Court once again, this time in an attempt to have the vexatious litigant order lifted as an apparently reformed character whose lawyer dream had been reignited. The judgment has just appeared on Baili.

Claiming that she is now a “renewed Christian and no longer has the same drive to litigate”, Douglas wanted the order removed to allow her to pursue a career at the bar.

Having recently become a “further education law teacher”, Douglas claimed the order against her was both “humiliating and restrictive”. Accepting that her behaviour pre-2007 was misconceived, Douglas initially claimed she was being discriminated against for suffering from both dyslexia and dyspraxia. She has since learned she suffers from neither.

The judgment also reveals that Douglas now wishes to either study an LLM at Chester University or — despite having attempted to sue them on a number of occasions — a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at the University of Law. But it would appear Douglas’ litigious past has already come back to haunt her, with Lincoln’s Inn refusing her admission as a student member in 2009.

Despite presenting herself as a changed woman, the judgment shows that Douglas’ urge to litigate seems to remain. As late as 2013, she was refused permission to commence judicial review proceedings against Manchester Metropolitan University and the Ministry of Justice.

Opting to dismiss Douglas’ application and maintain the order, Mrs Justice Carr said:

The Applicant’s recent attempts at litigation, right up to last year, demonstrate that her propensity for vexatious litigation remains. I am thus not satisfied that there is a sufficiently clear material change of circumstance, let alone a whole new set of circumstances, to justify discharge or variation of the Order.

Giving the wannabe barrister a glimmer of hope, she continued:

As before, it remains open to the Applicant one day — if the appropriate circumstances exist — to apply again for discharge of the Order. That would be an application carefully to be considered before being made and one that would need to be fully justified on the merits. It is impossible for me to prognose what lies ahead for the Applicant. But if, for example, she ceased from any form of unreasonable litigious activity for perhaps a period of some two or three years, she might be in a position to consider renewing the application that I consider that the Court must currently dismiss.