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.
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.