A family judge has publicly highlighted the actions of a litigant in person, who sent abusive emails and assaulted his opposing counsel, to demonstrate the scale of problems for courts in the face of ‘unrepresented and malevolent litigants’.
In a divorce case at the High Court, Mr Justice Mostyn opted to waive a husband and wife’s right to privacy in order to expose the ‘extreme’ conduct of the husband in the public interest. His conduct included a threat to execute his wife, her lawyers and Mostyn in a gas chamber.
In Veluppillai v Veluppillai, Mostyn said: ‘The public should be aware of the scale of problems that courts administering justice and implementing the rule of law have to face at the hands of unrepresented and malevolent litigants determined to do everything they can to destroy the process.’
The case centred around a wife’s claim for ancillary relief, which first commenced in September 2012. Since then there have been over 30 hearings, including four appeals mounted by the husband, Michael Veluppillai, due to what Mostyn described as his ‘extreme litigation conduct’.
He said: ‘In these ancillary relief proceedings he has been removed from the courtroom on at 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 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.’
In the husband’s emails he claimed that he had a fatal illness, demanding proceedings be adjourned indefinitely. He then called Mostyn a ‘cruel and evil person’, when the judge ordered a hearing to remain listed despite the husband’s claim that he was fatally ill.
The court said it would allow the husband to participate in the hearing by phone or video. Instead the husband continued to email Mostyn’s clerk.
In one email he said: ‘IF YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING THE CASE WITHOUT TELLING ME I WILL F**k YOU ALL MOSTYN (Sic).’
A later email read: ‘I WANT THE F**KING UPDATE ON WHAT IS HAPPENING YOU F**KING TALIKIUNG MY HARTD EARNED MONEY MOSTYN WHO THE HELL ARE YOU MAKING DECISION ON MY MONEY. HAVE YOU EARNED THIS F**KING MONEY. YOU ALL MUST BE EXECUTED IN A GAS CHAMBER (Sic).’
Mostyn ordered the husband to give his wife assets totalling £733,518 and made a cost order for £146,609.
He said the costs order would allow the wife to abandon her legal aid certificate. ‘This is … a very reasonable course. Legal aid firms depend for their survival for inter parties costs orders being made,’ he said.
Mostyn said the husband’s conduct was ‘so abysmal’ that he should pay all his wife’s costs.