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Barking up the wrong tree


Sometimes a case comes along that I just can’t resist, although it is not really family law.


Moosun and Others v HSBC (T/A First Direct) 2015


This is a case where there had been a quarrel between Ms Moosun and her bank (or rather former bank) and just about every form of litigation that could be issued by her had been issued. The bank responded by asking for a civil restraint order to prevent her issuing any more hopeless litigation.


Why I am I writing about this? Well, because of these paragraphs.


  1. The second application is dated 19th October 2015 and seeks to strike out the claim in action HC-2015-004041 which was issued on 21 September 2015. That claim is sought to be brought by Mrs. Moosun, her two infant children, and two dogs who are identified as Goldie, aged 18 months, and Diamond, aged 2 years. Again, Miss Wilmot-Smith takes the point that the claims by the children should be struck out as they are brought in circumstances where no litigation friend has been appointed on behalf of the children and no order has been made permitting the children to bring proceedings. That is right, and for the same reasons as in relation to the first claim, I shall strike out the claims by the children.
  2. Miss Wilmot-Smith also makes the obvious point that dogs are not capable of bringing legal proceedings. Among other things, CPR Part 2.3(1) defines “claimant” as a person who makes a claim, and a dog is not a person. I also cannot see how a dog could give instructions for a claim to be brought on its behalf or be liable for any orders made against it. There are a whole host of other reasons why proceedings by dogs must be void, and accordingly I am satisfied that in so far as the claim purports to be made on behalf of the two dogs it should also be struck out.


Yes, the dogs were also suing the bank.


I also note that in previous litigation


For her part, Mrs. Moosun raised a considerable number of points concerning the actions by the bank, both as a matter of contract and in relation to an alleged denial of her rights under the European Human Rights Convention, among other things by reason of the fact that the original order made by District Judge Banks had been made in her absence. She also alleged that what was happening to her involved “satanic freemasons”.


Well, now we all definitively know (for those of us who had any doubt at all) that dogs cannot bring Court proceedings. That is merciful to me, because otherwise my dog would be bringing claims under the Canine Rights Act because I made him return from his holiday in Cornwall, where he was spending his days playing on beaches, swimming in the sea and eating Cornish pasties.

About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

11 responses

  1. Wonderful ! You will be aware, though, of all sorts of peculiar old decisions on liability of animals that tend to appear in legal curiosity books.

    But bringing this up to date, there is an article in family law week (looks down, bashfully , by er, me and Prof Jonathan Herring) that looks at the possible status of robots in family law : If link doesn’t work, try googling Bettle, robots, marriage.

    • Yes, I’ve got a few books on my shelves about the criminal prosecutions of animals – the well-known ones about pigs hung for murder, but better ones about beetles who were ex-communicated and swarms of flies that were banished.

      Robots! I’m immediately sold.

  2. Pingback: Barking up the wrong tree | Legal In General | ...

  3. There is a growing movement to establish rights of animals and of the natural environment. Switzerland has a high level of animal rights but a few years ago decided not to introduce (I think) the possibility of actions on behalf of animals.

    I wish I were at university, sometimes, but it’s often said that rights can’t be acknowledged unless there are also responsibilities: this is often proposed by those of the school of thought that rights are fictitious, mutable and culturally specific. I don’t know if the rights and responsibilities have to be complementary*.

    My eyes glaze over at the point where more academic people think this all becomes interesting so I’m sure that others have already determined where the rights / responsibilities aspect leaves babies, the elderly and those with progressive degeneration of the brain. If some dogs can function and work as assistance dogs at the level of a 2 – 3 year old then I would have thought they should have rights, too. And I wouldn’t trust a 2 year old to take me across the road but I would trust a guide dog.

    And if it’s ok to leave money in trust for the care of a pet, which apparently it is, could that pet not defend /bring Inheritance Act actions? That’s done by the trustees I suppose.

    Anyway, I think my point is that, as with robots, the idea that pets can’t sue isn’t as obvious as it might seem and may change.

    I once read / heard on the radio a story of a man who is marooned on a planet with only a sentient robot for company who acts and speaks as though she (it would be a she, wouldn’t it!) has an attachment to him and cares for him. He gets the opportunity to leave but can only leave on his own. What should he do? I wish I could track this down, it’s quite an old story so it could be Arthur C Clarke or Asimov.

    * if I spelled this wrongly then I meant complimentary.

    • I am now pondering the event of a case where a person makes love with someone believing them to be a robot, but they aren’t really a robot they are a person with some tinfoil sellotaped strategically to themselves. Of course perhaps the greater question will be whether anyone will spend any time either studying law or going to Court if there are widely available sex robots, or whether substantial swathes of the country will never leave the house any longer…

      • “whether anyone will spend any time either studying law or going to Court if there are widely available sex robots”

        Yes we are all at court tomorrow because of the lack of sex robots and I shall bear that firmly in mind.

  4. I predict that there will be a case on whether you can marry a robot within the next half century! Perhaps rather sooner than that. In terms of policy considerations, I can’t see any reason why not – but I think the killer point against will be property rights – i.e. it seems unrealistic for a court to grant property rights to a robot. Which rather makes one wonder if what makes a marriage a marriage is actually the effect which is has on property rights.

    • I think early on, there will have to be some interpretative legislation about which Acts apply to robots and which not, and where the dividing line is. Sentience, perhaps?

      “And we’ll eat tyres instead of liquorice”

      “No we won’t”

      “maybe YOU won’t”

    • But Janet!! That’s the whole feminist argument against marriage: it IS just about the property rights. That’s always been what it’s about. And property includes children.

      • Quite. But I’m not sure why it’s viewed as a feminist thing – women often do very well in terms of property rights exiting a marriage. It’s just saying that the old Victorian ideas about marriage being about property may still reign supreme.

  5. Who’s barking?

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