On my way back from court last week, I saw John Wilson protesting in Queen’s Square (again). Mr Wilson is a campaigner for the right to trial by jury and like may other crusaders he has made himself a “serial pest” in the courts. As it has been some time since I have seen him, curiosity got the better of me and I did a quick Austlii search to see what he’s been up to recently.

It appears that Mr Wilson was declared a vexatious litigant in 2010 (see Attorney General of NSW v Wilson [2010] NSWSC 1008), a decision which he (of course) appealed (see John Wilson v The Attorney General of New South Wales [2011] NSWCA 10). In dismissing the appeal, Justice McColl succinctly summarises his activities as follows:

[3] The reasons of the primary judge contain a careful analysis of 14 sets of proceedings Mr Wilson commenced in the Court (and almost invariably took on appeal to this Court and by application for special leave to the High Court [see links in footnote below]) between 4 July 1996 and 17 October 2007.

[4] Mr Wilson has not challenged his Honour’s analysis in any respect. Rather, his written and oral submissions have been directed to reiterating, among other matters, the underlying theme of many of those actions, namely, that any legal action in which he is involved, including those before the primary judge, must be tried by a jury (a right said to be derived from the Bible , the Magna Carta and other instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and historical sources). He also submits that judicial officers are not properly appointed and therefore have no jurisdiction over him. These submissions have been considered and rejected in many of the cases which form the basis of the Attorney General’s application.

[5] In addition, as I understand Mr Wilson’s oral submissions this morning, he alleges that the Vexatious Proceedings Act itself is ultra vires, apparently, again, because it does not permit trials by juries. Mr Wilson’s written submissions also refer to principles of natural justice, in particular the rule against bias and the right to be heard, but make no submission that the hearing before the primary judge was affected by any breach of either of those principles. A reading of the transcript of the hearing and of the judgment make it plain that the primary judge approached the matter impartially and went to great lengths to ensure Mr Wilson was given an opportunity to be heard (despite the fact that he had to be removed from court at one stage due his constant interventions and over talking the judge).

If he had too much time on his hands previously, he’ll have even more now!

Footnote: The transcripts of Mr Wilson’s special leave applications in the High Court are interesting to read if you have time:

Wilson v The Prothonotary [1999] HCA Trans 108

Wilson v State of NSW [2001] HCATrans 623

Wilson v Deputy Commissioner of Taxation [2003 HCATrans 403

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.

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