Abuse of process

Abuse of process covers a broad range of activity which can lead the court to strike out a statement of case.

The term is not defined in the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (“CPR”). However, it has been explained in another context as “using that process for a purpose or in a way significantly different from its ordinary and proper use” (Attorney General v Barker [2000] 1 F.L.R. 759).

The categories of abuse of process are many and are not closed. However, the CPR sets out some examples of the potential forms of abuse, which include:

  • Vexatious proceedings
  • Attempts to re-litigate decided issues
  • Collateral attacks upon earlier decisions
  • Pointless and wasteful litigation
  • Improper collateral purpose
  • Delay

The striking out of a valid claim will always be the last option and any decision to do so will be taken with consideration of the overriding objective.