Written by Gordon Dadds
The case of Welch v Welch has been a long and complicated piece of litigation in which Emma Morris, Senior Associate with our Family team, has fought long and hard on behalf of our client, Denis Welch.
In a judgment dated 31st July 2015, recently published, Emma obtained an extended civil restraint order against Mrs Welch. It is thought that this is the first time that the Family Court has granted such an order in ancillary relief proceedings.
The order largely prevents serial litigant in person Mrs Welch from bringing further applications against her former husband, our client, for a period of two years.
Mrs Welch was described in an earlier judgment as ‘vengeful, obsessive, irrational and unjustified’. Mr and Mrs Welch separated in 2012 after six years together but from 2007 onwards barely cohabited as Mr Welch moved to Singapore for work. It was their second marriage and they did not have children.
From 2013 onwards Mrs Welch pursued her former husband through the courts, repeatedly accusing him of failing to disclose his true wealth despite numerous findings by the court to the contrary. She has applied for permission to appeal almost every judgement in addition to applying for both DJ Hess (as was) and Mrs Justice Roberts to recuse themselves, both those applications were found to be meritless.
Mrs Welch currently owes over £75,000 in costs to Mr Welch which has led to a suspension of her periodical payments pending formal assessment. It is right to say permission to appeal has been applied for but to date not yet been dealt with.
DJ Hess (as was) commented that the disaster which leaves the wife in the position she is in is her fault; not a mutual fault. This fact played an important role when deciding the final award.
Emma Morris comments:
“This is, as far as the judge and senior counsel are aware, a unique instance of an extended civil restraint order being granted by the Family Courts in ancillary relief proceedings. An extended civil restraint order is granted only in extreme circumstances, where a party has persistently issued claims or made applications which are totally without merit. That happened on numerous occasions here over a prolonged period of time.
It was Mr Welch who required the court’s protection and if the extended civil restraint order had been granted earlier it would have saved precious court time in addition to unmeasurable anxiety for Mr Welch.
The courts are reluctant to impose harsh sanctions against litigants in person and bend over backwards to support them (in the majority of cases quite rightly) but this case provoked a deservedly strong measure from the courts.
The courts have consistently found that our client, Denis Welch, has nothing to hide yet Mrs Welch has continued to allege material non-disclosure to the courts. She has caused inconceivable financial, emotional and reputational damage to my client and he welcomes this order.
We also welcome the decision of Judge Hess to publicise these judgments which we hope will highlight to serial litigants that the family courts are equipped to deal with ill-founded applications.”
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