Judge “deeply concerned” by verbal threats from unhappy litigant

Remote hearing: Litigant held in contempt of court

A judge has expressed his “deep concern” at being threatened verbally by a litigant in person unhappy with his ruling.

Insolvency and Company Courts Judge Jones nonetheless continued to rule on the second part of Irena Ferme’s ultimately unsuccessful appeal against a refusal to admit a proof of debt.

He explained that, during the hearing, he had given oral judgment on two points. “However, it is of deep concern and should be recorded that Ms Ferme threatened me verbally at the remote hearing as soon as I had delivered judgment.

“The threats, delivered in aggressive terms and manner, being implied from the words used when she asked me if I knew what happened to judges in America who made decisions such I had, and being made expressly when she stated that personal claims would be made against me because of my decision here and abroad.”

Judge Jones continued that, in the absence of any indication of apology or remorse from Ms Ferme, “I stated at the time my disapproval, my conclusion that this was a contempt of court, and the reasons for my deciding nevertheless to continue to hear the second part of her application ‘without fear or favour’”.

He added: “The ability to do so is, after all, one of the fundamental reasons for judges having immunity from any action brought against them in reliance upon a judgment delivered by them.”

But it was, nevertheless, “wholly unacceptable conduct”, Judge Jones said. The solution for a dissatisfied litigant “is not to threaten the judge” but to seek to appeal.

He went on to reject Ms Ferme’s claim as an assignee to be entitled to prove for interest resulting from the delay in a company making payment to the assignor.

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