34 Monash U. L. Rev. 190 (2008)
Goldsmith Collins: Footballer, Fencer, Maverick Litigator

handle is hein.journals/monash34 and id is 190 raw text is: GOLDSMITH COLLINS: FOOTBALLER, FENCER,
MAVERICK LITIGATOR
SIMON SMITH*
The surge in 'litigants in person' is a challenge for contemporary courts.
At the extreme end are a small group of vexatious litigants or querulents
who persistently and unsuccessfully pursue litigation until banned by the
court. But who are they and what motivates them? This article traces the
story of one of this small band of persistent litigants, Goldsmith 'Goldie'
Collins (1901-1982). As a young man Collins was a champion Australian
Rules Footballer with the Fitzroy Football Club. He found later notoriety
through his provocative legal proceedings as a self-represented litigant
against the Northcote City Council that rapidly escalated into a legal assault
against all persons and institutions drawn into that web. In 1952 Collins was
the fourth Australian to be declared a vexatious litigant. As the first person
declared by the High Court, his declaration the next year by the Victorian
Supreme Court (its third) made him the first person to be declared in two
jurisdictions. Despite his declarations and being gaoled a number of times
for contempt of court, Collins continued as a legal 'maverick' into the 1970s.
In providing context for Collins' litigation this article will demonstrate the
difficulties faced by other litigants, the profession and the judiciary when
dealing with an unpredictable, even aggressive, litigant who determinedly
challenges authority. Drawing on recent psychiatric literature it will also
demonstrate that the vexatious litigant sanction is an inadequate response to
the challenge a litigant, such as Collins, presents to the courts.
I INTRODUCTION AND THE RISE OF THE QUERULENT
Unquestionably, Rupert Frederick Millane (1887-1969) was the pioneer of the
Australian 'vexatious bar'. It was his extraordinary flood of unsuccessful litigation
in the 1920s, mainly against the Melbourne and Heidelberg Councils, that led
to the enactment in 1928 of the vexatious litigant sanction in Victoria. That
provision empowered the Supreme Court to prohibit the issue of proceedings by
such litigants without the Court's prior leave. It provided the model for similar
Ph D Candidate, Faculty of Law, Monash University. The author gratefully acknowledge the generous
co-operation and assistance of Peter and Rosemary Balmford, James Butler, Jack Campbell, Ken
Collins, Barney Cooney, Christopher Doogan, Bob Ellicott, Jackie Goddard, Elise Histed, Frank Jones,
Bronwyn Naylor, Philip Opas, Joe Saltalamacchia, Gordon Spence, Edward Woodward, John Young
and the anonymous referee.

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