Woman wins costs after judge issued harassment order against her

Relationships|April 16th 2014

A woman who had been made the subject of a harassment order has won 70 per cent of her legal costs after she and her former partner reached a compromise agreement.

In JM v CZ, the parties had had a close relationship for a number of years but they had never lived together. Eventually, the woman fell pregnant.

However, after the relationship ended, the man was granted an ex parte order under Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996, which covers issues relating to “Family Homes and Domestic Violence”.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Mostyn explained:

“I am not going to describe the circumstances which led to the applicant applying ex parte for the order on 20 December 2013, but the order that was made on that day provided as follows:

(i) That the respondent was forbidden from going within 50 metres of the applicant’s office address in the City.

(ii) She was forbidden from going within 50 metres of the applicant’s home address in North London.

(iii) She was forbidden to communicate with the applicant, whether by letter, text message, e-mail, telephone or other means, except through his solicitors.

(iv) She was forbidden from harassing, pestering or molesting the applicant, whether doing so directly or by proxy.”

The order was to have lasted one full year. Subsequently, however, the parties reached an compromise agreement, in which they gave ‘cross non-molestation undertakings’, each agreeing not to harass the other.

Mr Justice Mostyn said this decision was “wise”, saying that if they had not so, he would most likely have ordered the judgement to be published with the former couple’s names included, “in conformity with the movement towards much greater transparency in family proceedings”.

He criticised the original earlier decision to issue the order ‘ex parte – ie without giving advance notice to the woman, saying “the lack of any notice at all was unjustifiable.”

The man had initially rejected an offer by the woman to reach a compromise agreement, noted the judge.

“In circumstances where that offer was made – which, in my view, was unwisely turned down – my starting point is that the [woman] is entitled to her costs.”

As her costs were “just short of £49,000”, she was to receive £34,200.

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Comments(2)

  1. Andrew says:

    Good reasoning. Now let’s bring Calderbank offers back in ancillary relief – which would encourage realism and penalise greed or meanness. You might have to postpone payment of the costs during the minority of the children – charged on whatever asserts the party who declined the offer gets or keeps with the same penal interest as in [other] civil litigation.

  2. Stitchedup says:

    “He criticised the original earlier decision to issue the order ‘ex parte – ie without giving advance notice to the woman, saying “the lack of any notice at all was unjustifiable.””

    Ex parte orders are unjustifiable in the majority of cases, except in cases of extreme and imminent danger. Judges that issue non-mols willy nilly are just covering their backsides and flouting their responsibility to make well balanced decisions. It’s a scandal of massive proportions where many unfortunate people, myself included, find themselves entering the criminal justice system through the back door; convicted for doing something that in normal circumstances would be considered perfectly legal and reasonable…. nothing remotely to do with what most commonsensical people would consider domestic violence.

    It never cease to amaze me how many lawyers and judiciary are prepared to shout from the rooftops about legal aid yet are mute about massive injustices of this kind and remain complicit in the abuse of the system. I also have not heard a word of dissent from any of the legal profession with regards to what our old friend Kier Starmer is planning via the Laboir Party:

    “Unveiling a raft of ideas which could form part of a new victims’ law, Mr Starmer said vulnerable witnesses could be questioned by a trial judge, rather than cross-examined by a barrister.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26917360

    It’s difficult for me to see how this is compatible with an adversarial system. Also the insistence that a victim of domestic/sexual abuse should be believed from the outset immediately puts the accused in a position of guilty until proven innocent. This man is turning our justice system on its head, it is seriously concerning that a man with such loony left wing political views, in bed with feminist political organisations like Women’s Aid, held the post of DPP…. And that’s coming from a person that describes himself as a capitalist with a social conscience, I’m certainly not from the far right wing.

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