Scuffle of the week

Disgruntled litigant Geoffrey Scriven v the entire legal profession. This week, the Cheshire businessman is being taken to the High Court by Lord Williams of Mostyn for breaching his undertaking not to ‘scandalise the court’, an offence dating back to 1344. In 1997 the then-Attorney General Sir Nicholas Lyell took Scriven to court for the archaic contempt of court offence after Scriven had described judges as being bent, corrupt and even members of the mafia. Scriven gave an undertaking not to repeat the accusations but Lyell’s successor is giving the accusations the oxygen of publicity by accusing Scriven of having breached his undertaking. Geoffrey Robertson QC said: ‘Scandalising the court is an obnoxious law which offends against the principle that the courts should not be judges in their own cause. The government should be abolishing it, not reviving it.’