Struck-off conspiracy theorist solicitor jailed for contempt

High Court: Ellis recruits “innocent litigants”

A struck-off solicitor who issues “spurious applications and claims” in the names of “innocent litigants” has failed in his appeal against a 12-month prison sentence for contempt.

Lord Justice Coulson said the scale of the harm inflicted on the justice system by Edward William Ellis “cannot be underestimated”, and, following the failure of his appeal, he “must commence his term of imprisonment immediately”.

Coulson LJ said the ex-solicitor was “apparently convinced that politicians, judges, the government, and the Ministry of Justice, together with all those who work for them, are corrupt and that their decisions are, without exception, fraudulent”.

Mr Ellis was struck off as a solicitor in 2013 but continued to market himself as an “equity lawyer”.

Coulson LJ said the modus operandi of Mr Ellis was to recruit innocent litigants, “some with grievances against the justice system, some desperate for any help no matter from what source, and others just bewildered by a process that they do not understand” and, in the guise of helping them, issue “spurious applications and claims in their name”.

Those applications and claims “inevitably fail, which is presumably the appellant’s intention all along, because (despite the fact that they are nonsensical) their failure allegedly shows that the legal system is corrupt”.

Coulson LJ went on: “In this way, innocent litigants find themselves in more trouble than they were if they had refused the appellant’s offer of ‘help’ in the first place.”

On the impact of his behaviour, the judge said: “He knows what he is doing. He is persistent. His determination to disrupt the justice system, and to interfere in cases in which he has no personal involvement whatsoever, appears limitless.

“I find myself wondering what such persistence and determination might have achieved had they been directed towards a sensible or cogent end.

“The harm caused is high. A very large amount of judicial time and effort has had to be wasted on the appellant and his various applications. That is detrimental to the needs of genuine litigants.

“At a time when the resources of the court service are so stretched, the scale of the harm done cannot be underestimated.”

Delivering judgment in Ellis v Solicitor General [2023] EWCA Civ 585, Coulson LJ said Mr Ellis was the subject of a general civil restraint order (GCRO) imposed by the High Court in 2018. It was extended in 2020 and 2022.

Mrs Justice Cutts imposed a committal order of nine months’ imprisonment on Mr Ellis, suspended for two years, in April 2021, following nine breaches of the GCRO.

Two applications in other people’s names in the following year contained phrases mentioned by the GCRO as indicating that they came from Mr Ellis.

Mr Justice Kerr ruled that the contempts “bore the character of a criminal rather than a civil contempt” and “only a sentence of immediate custody was justified”.

He imposed a sentence of six months in prison for these two contempts, and a further six months by activating the previous suspended sentence of nine months.

This was stayed pending the ex-solicitor’s appeal. Coulson LJ said Mr Ellis had issued an “incomprehensible” appeal notice and described his conspiracy arguments as “absolute nonsense”.

Had he been the judge at first instance, he said, “I would have activated the entirety of the nine months suspended sentence”.

Despite giving it “active consideration”, Coulson LJ said he would not be increasing the prison term to 15 months.

“I would dismiss this appeal which means that the appellant must commence his term of imprisonment immediately.” Lewison LJ agreed.

In 2018, the Court of Appeal refused permission for Mr Ellis to appeal against a suspended prison sentence handed out for conducting litigation in breach of the Legal Services Act 2007.

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Shocking figures suggest divorce lawyers need to do more for clients

There are so many areas where professional legal advice requires complementary financial planning and one that is too frequently overlooked is on separation or divorce.

Is it time to tune back into radio marketing?

How many people still listen to the radio? More than you might think, it seems. Official figures show that 88% of UK adults tuned in during the last quarter of 2023 for an average of 20.5 hours each week.

Use the tools available to stop doing the work you shouldn’t be doing anyway

We are increasingly taken for granted in the world of Do It Yourself, in which we’re required to do some of the work we have ostensibly paid for, such as in banking, travel and technology

Loading animation