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Judge bars ex-wife from further litigation

Monday, 9 November, 2015

An English family court judge has imposed an extended civil restraint order on an ex-wife to stop her bringing further 'bitter and intense' litigation against her former spouse.

The order, thought to be the first of its kind in financial remedy proceedings, was made by Mr Justice Holman against Vivien Welch. She believes her ex-husband misled the court about his assets.

Vivien Welch has been acting as litigant in person, having had significant experience in the courts. She was engaged in litigation against her previous husband during much of the marriage.

However, she has not been able to prove Denis Welch's culpability to the courts' satisfaction. In an earlier hearing, Mrs Justice Roberts concluded that 'there had not been any significant non-disclosure, or lies, or misleading of the court'. Despite being refused permission to appeal, Vivien Welch then returned to court seeking an increase in her GBP12,000 per year maintenance order, and requesting that two of the judges recuse themselves. According to Edward Heaton of Mills & Reeve, other applications included: an appeal against an order for possession; an application for the matter to be transferred to the Royal Courts of Justice; an application to strike out a cross-application by Denis Welch for a civil restraining order; and an application for permission to use documentation disclosed in the proceedings in support of an action to commit him to prison.

All this has landed her with costs of GBP75,000 owed to Denis Welch and GBP441,000 to her former solicitors, Withers. In fact, even more costs could have been awarded against her at the most recent hearing, but the judge decided there was no point in doing so because she cannot pay, having no remaining assets or funds of her own. The order for her maintenance payments has been suspended by the courts (Welch v Welch, 2015 EWHC 2622 Fam).

The restraint order was made at the same hearing but has only just been made public. It restrains her from bringing further applications for two years, except applications to vary the current level of periodical payments or to have her maintenance payments resumed.
Mr Welch's solicitor Emma Morris said that his ex-wife's litigation had caused him 'inconceivable financial, emotional, and reputational damage'.

Sources