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29 August 2019 / by / in

Why do we have so many useless judges?

The case of Simetra Global Assets Limited v Ikon Finance Limited [2019] EWCA civ 1413 is another case of a hapless English judge. The case featured an alleged Ponzi scheme and involved allegations of dishonest assistance. There was a 13 day trial in the Commercial Court. A 13 page judgment was handed down 7 months after the conclusion of the trial. The Court of Appeal ordered a re-trial because the judgment failed to address many of the issues raised at trial and failed to properly analyse the witness and documentary evidence. The Court of Appeal found many of the critical findings were unjust or unexplained. A retrial before a different judge was required. For the appellate court to function properly it must be able to understand how the trial judge reached his decision. This unfortunate state of affairs left a heavy burden of costs and additional unwarranted stress on the parties.

In another Court of Appeal case earlier this year, Serafin v Malkiewicz and others it was found “on numerous occasions, the judge appears not only to have descended to the arena, cast off the mantle of impartiality and taken up the cudgels of cross-examination, but also to have used language which was threatening, overbearing and, frankly, bullying.” The unfair decision was again overturned. Sadly, these two examples both feature High Court judges. No great advert for the English legal system.

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John Bechelet

John specialises in commercial and civil fraud litigation. Admitted as a solicitor in 1983, John worked in private practice and in-house for a leading life assurance company before establishing Bivonas with Antony Brown in 1997. John has extensive experience in a wide range of courts and tribunals including the UK Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Divisional Court. He has been involved in a number of important reported cases.