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CROs: Too much of a bad thing

Is it time to consider a further remedy beyond civil restraint orders for dealing with irrational litigants, asks Patrick Wheeler

1 August 2017

In 2014, the article ‘Civil Restraint Orders: Enough is Enough’ (SJ 158/37) implied that the power to award CROs was relatively rarely used, but seemed to be effective. Since then, courts have issued CROs with increasing frequency, but it is doubtful whether they are an effective control on misguided but determined litigants.

Many such individuals continue trying to challenge decisions and make fresh applications in an attempt to circumvent an order intended to moderate their behaviour. Two recent cases illustrate the difficulties that both the courts and opposing parties are facing.

To recap, the purpose and effect of a CRO is to prevent a litigant from continuing to make meritless claims and applications by requiring the permission of a judge before future applications are issued in specified circumstances. CPR 3.11 and Practice Direction 3C set out the three t...

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