Financial remedies- extreme litigation misconduct/costs orders/lifting of press restrictions
Date posted: 10 February 2016
Velupillai v Velupillai & Others  Fam Law 1485
This case was publicised in the press recently, and is a cautionary tale to those who seek to abuse the court process in order to frustrate a spouse’s claim to financial remedy following divorce.
The matter concerned Mr and Mrs Velupillai, a 20 year marriage, and net assets of £1.3m. The case was considered to be routine, but for the fact that the wife’s legal bill had accumulated to £150K as a result of the ‘litigant in person‘ husband’s ‘extreme litigation conduct’ namely: threatening to kill the wife and her barrister, filing numerous unmeritorious and repeated applications, refusing to give disclosure, transferring assets to other family members, lying about his health to secure adjournments, then fleeing the jurisdiction and sending a series of abusive emails to the court, and to the judge (Mostyn J) personally. The case comprised 30 hearings and 4 appeals. The wife had the benefit of legal aid.
The judge found that the husband probably had at least £500K in undisclosed assets, awarded the wife just under 50% of the assets, ordered the husband to pay her costs on an indemnity basis and charged the husband’s property as security. He also made an extended civil restraint order for 2 years and lifted reporting restrictions so the matter could be fully reported in the press, as it was in the public interest for this type of ‘unrepresented and malevolent litigants’ to be exposed.
This case shows that the courts will only be tolerant of such behaviour to a limited extent.