A rare, and extreme, costs award

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It is unusual for the judge to order a husband, or wife, to pay the other's legal costs in proceedings, to sort out their financial affairs.  The normal position is, that each person pays their own costs.  If someone is guilty of what is called "litigation misconduct" then the judge can order the offending party to pay all, or a contributions towards, their ex-spouse's costs.  Examples of litigation misconduct would be; failing to turn up for a hearing, failing to disclose all your assets and income, failing to comply with court directions and the like. 

The recent case of Veluppillai v Veluppillai [2015] EWHC 3095 (Fam) is a rare example of the judge awarding nearly £150,000 in costs, to be paid by the husband to the wife.  It was a case where, Mr Veluppillai represented himself, and since the proceedings started, in September 2012, there had been more than thirty hearings, including four appeals by the husband.  The judge in the case, Justice Mostyn, went through what the husband had done, as follows:

"This deluge has been caused by the husband's extreme litigation misconduct. In parallel proceedings concerning a bogus loan asserted by his sister, he made threats to kill against the wife, and her counsel, for which he was committed to prison for contempt. In these ancillary relief proceedings, he has been removed from the courtroom on at a least one occasion, by security staff. He has been repeatedly warned by judges about his unpleasant menacing conduct in court. On one occasion, he assaulted the wife's counsel, and the wife, in court for which he was later convicted of assault in the magistrates' court. He skipped his sentencing hearing and fled abroad from where he has bombarded the court with abusive emails claiming that he has a fatal illness and demanding that the proceedings be adjourned, indefinitely. In the course of the proceedings, he has entered into a number of transactions designed to defeat the wife's claims."

The judge found the wife's proposal to resolve matters fair and reasonable and followed it to resolve the case.  He ordered the husband to pay the wife's costs, which were assessed to be £146,609.