Mr Justice Warby’s recent judgment in Barkhuysen v. Hamilton  EWHC 3371 (QB) provides a further stark warning, particularly for litigants in person, of the consequences of unreasonable conduct. The Claimant secured an award of damages in the sum of £32,080 for false imprisonment, harassment and slander. However, the costs order obtained was for considerably more, in part because of the Defendant’s behaviour; the court ordered that the Defendant pay 90% of the Claimant’s costs on an indemnity basis, with an interim payment of £150,000 plus interest on those costs to accrue at a rate of 10%.
Mr Justice Warby commented that the matter stood out as a “case for indemnity costs par excellence”, noting that the central allegation in the case, one of bestiality, was false and malicious, the Defendant had attempted to influence the course of justice by threatening witnesses, and told a serious of serious lies in the course of the litigation. Furthermore, the manner in which she had behaved, both as a litigant in person and later in the way she instructed her counsel, was unreasonable.
Whilst of course the circumstances in this case are extreme, it follows a string of similar judgments, such as Agarwala v. Agarwala  EWCA Civ 1252 where Judges have used their judgments to make examples of litigants conducting themselves improperly and to show that such behaviour will not go unchecked.