Cripps extricates itself from ten-year-old malicious prosecution feud with farmer

Cripps Harries Hall has been dropped from a claim brought by farmer John Hoath in relation to a 10-year saga over his bankruptcy.

At a hearing in the High Court in March, Mr Justice Peter Smith ordered that Hoath had leave to serve particulars of a claim in relation to matters arising out of the possession of the farm in September 2002. But the application to remove the stay on all other claims, which included malicious prosecution and fraud, was refused, as was permission to appeal.

The original claim, filed in the High Court on 23 January, listed a number of defendants, including not only Cripps but also fellow South East firms Brachers, Cooper & Burnett and Rix & Kay, as well as accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and a number of individual partners and a barrister. However, following the March hearing, Hoath last week served an amended claim on PwC, Brachers and a number of individuals. The claims against Cooper & Burnett and Rix & Kay have also both been dropped.

The new claim alleges conversion, and also accuses PwC of a breach of fiduciary duty, misfeasance in public office and a breach of human rights.

It is now one-all in the Cripps-Hoath saga. The first round went to Hoath, who won £102,500 in damages for assault, following a tussle with Cripps’ senior partner Christopher Hall and his son Colin. The brawl erupted after Hall and his son tried to pull down a sign that Hoath erected, which stated that Cripps ripped off its clients.

“We’ve always believed that the case had no merit and we’re pleased to see that Mr Justice Peter Smith agrees with us,” said a Cripps statement.

PwC and Brachers declined to comment.