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UK Petitions to the European Court of Human Rights

Volume 594: debated on Monday 23 March 2015

The Petition of Jonathan Roger Steinberg,

Declares that the Petitioner is a resident of both London and New York; further that the Petitioner and his mother were forced to leave their home; further that the Petitioner believes that he was deprived of his home and assets as a result of a malicious vendetta carried out by a solicitor in over half a dozen pieces of litigation concluding with Pritchard Englefield v Steinberg HQ02X01159; further that the Petitioner believes that each such action over a 15 year period was commenced in abuse of process by a firm of solicitors acting for their own benefit; further that in that litigation, the solicitor succeeded by applying to various courts for various ex parte and without notice judgments often by presenting falsified evidence and at a time when they knew the Petitioner was unable to take part in the litigation for medical reasons; further that the UK judge assumed a right to handle the solicitor’s application because he said he had power after a few weeks wait to “decide the time had come” to dispense with the strictures of Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights and pass judgment against a party who could not take part in the proceedings for medical reasons and deprive that party and his family of their home contrary to Article 8(1) of the Convention without giving that party any opportunity to present opposition to such application or applications; further that the Petitioner believes that without any or proper reference to judicial staff, the European Court of Human Rights wrongly struck out the Petitioner’s petition to that court without any hearing and without being able to write any judgment in the case with the statement that the petition disclosed no breach of any Convention right; and further that the Petitioner believes that litigation before courts of the UK should be properly and fairly disposed and that applications should not be left undecided for any reason.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to strengthen the procedures for requesting the Master of the Rolls to review a litigation case under Section 54(4) of the Senior Courts Act 1981; further requests that the House requests that the Government press the Council of Europe to review the Petition process of the European Court of Human Rights to establish whether UK Petitions are properly treated when tested against whether a violation of rights is alleged and to establish what further steps could be taken to strengthen the rights of UK subjects who have Petitions before the European Court; and further requests that the House urges the Government to consider whether steps should be taken to strengthen the rights of UK subjects who have Petitions wrongly culled from European Court lists without regard for the rights of those UK Petitioners; further requests pursuant to the facts and matters set out herein the House of Commons set up a full inquiry.

And the Petitioner remains, etc.––[Official Report, 12 February 2015, Vol.592, c. 11P.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Justice:

The Government have the following Observations to make:-

In the United Kingdom the separation of powers as between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary is paramount––the judiciary are not subject to review by the executive, nor indeed Parliament.

Judges carry out their duties having regard only to the facts and arguments which are brought before them and it is their task to apply the law in that light. Questions about the merits of a case, about the evidence that was offered, about the interpretation of that evidence, or about the decisions that have been made, are not questions on which Parliament has any jurisdiction.

Where someone believes that a court or tribunal has been confused and did not properly understand the facts of the case concerned, or has misdirected itself in law, the appropriate remedy is to seek to appeal or, where appropriate, to apply for judicial review.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal in Steinberg, v. Enslefield f20051 EWCA Civ 288 makes clear that the litigation referred to in the petition was properly conducted. Here Sedley LJ set out the case history and paid specific attention to the care that the lower court had taken in dealing with the petitioner, especially in balancing the need for judgment as against the need to be present at the proceedings1. It should be noted that the petitioner made two separate applications to the Court of Appeal; both raising the complaint that judgment was made in his absence2. Both times his applications were dismissed. There has been no appeal to the Supreme Court.

As to the issue of the loss of the family home, this is covered by the findings of Peter Smith J in the possession proceedings3. In effect the sale was ordered so as to preserve as much of the value as possible so that there would be something left over for the petitioner’s mother to live on. Had the judge not made the order for sale, the equity would have been swallowed up in the existing charging orders and the judgment debt.

Our legal system, courts, judges and lawyers are admired throughout the world. Judicial independence, professionalism and impartiality are the cornerstone of this. There is nothing that indicates that the cases were not tried with the degree of care that one expects from United Kingdom judges.

In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, it is for domestic courts to ensure that proceedings are conducted compatibly with the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is of course open to anyone to apply to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if they believe their rights to have been breached. However, in view of the large number of applications that it receives, it is the practice of the Strasbourg Court to dismiss an application immediately as manifestly inadmissible if it considers that it does not disclose a possible violation of the Convention, taking note of the consideration that has already taken place at national level.

The Government strongly support the implementation of the principle of subsidiarity by the Strasbourg Court, this having been a key part of the reforms cemented by the Brighton Declaration under the United Kingdom’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2012.

There is no evidence that applications made against the United Kingdom are treated differently by the Strasbourg Court from any others. In any case, as the Government respond to proceedings on behalf of the United Kingdom, it is not in a position to intercede on behalf of applicants against it.

1 See para 18

2 [2005] EWCA Civ 824

3 [2004] EWCH 1908 (Ch)