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Vexatious ex-solicitor’s “hyperbole” leaves High Court judge speechless

High Court: no option but to extend restraint order

A High Court judge has extended a general civil restraint order (GCRO) against a struck-off solicitor for a further two years after her “hyperbolic” claims rendered him almost speechless.

Extending the GCRO against Anal Sheikh – first made in 2009 and renewed every two years since – for a further two years, the maximum possible, Mr Justice Turner explained that her application for an adjournment included the statement that the case involved “the most important question ever asked in the history of civilisation since the birth of time”.

This meant, Ms Sheikh said, “that all books on contract law will have to be withdrawn and rewritten and changes would have to immediately be implemented to school and university syllabuses. There should probably some sort of government notice published in the UK and throughout the world”.

Turner J said simply: “Comment would be superfluous.”

Ms Sheikh, a former conveyancing solicitor who was for many years the principal of a high street practice in London, was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in 2009 for dishonesty.

Since engaging in lengthy litigation over a dispute between the solicitor and her mother, and a property developer, Ms Sheikh has launched numerous applications in the courts involving allegations against a large number of lawyers and judges. Two of those lawyers applied to extend the GCRO.

A GCRO can be ordered by a High Court judge to curb the activities of someone who “persists in issuing claims or making applications which are totally without merit”.

A recent allegation was that a group of very senior judges conspired to steal her title to a property development and share the £64m profits among themselves.

Turner J said: “There are some unlucky people for whom litigation becomes akin to an addiction; harmful, destructive and all-consuming. As with all other compulsions, the adverse impact is not only upon the sufferer but also upon those around them.

“In order to rationalise her conclusion that virtually every judge who has made a finding adverse to her and virtually every counsel who has represented the interests of those whom she opposes is part of a vast conspiracy of fraud, she has convinced herself that the United Kingdom is governed by a malevolent juristocracy the corrupting influence of which permeates through and contaminates other institutions including, but by no means limited to, the Land Registry and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

“In this regard, Miss Sheikh’s presentation fits precisely the all too familiar template of the obsessive litigant.”

He concluded: “I am in little doubt that she genuinely believes that the legal system of England and Wales is almost irredeemably corrupt and that only through her own persistence and resilience can there be any hope of a remedy.

“Indeed, it is the very strength of her convictions that fuels her inexhaustible, but as I have found misdirected, momentum.”

Her “hyperbolic reaction” to the applications to extend the restraint order left him no option but to extend it. Were he not to, “there would follow a blizzard of uncontrolled and unmeritorious claims”.

However, Turner J said: “I would hope, but not expect, that Miss Sheikh’s undoubted energies may be redirected towards a goal more satisfying and life affirming than the chimera she has so relentlessly pursued over the last decade.”