Marriott (by Keith Cousins) v Dougherty-Marriott

The Claimant (one of the first solicitors to be made Queens Counsel) was today given permission by the High Court to discontinue his action against his wife on terms that included the payment of her costs on the indemnity basis and the payment of damages pursuant to the cross-undertaking given when obtaining interim freezing relief.

The Claimant (who was acting by a litigation friend because of a disability which rendered his memory unreliable) had claimed both a 50% share in a flat that he had gifted to the defendant many years previously and ownership of a host of private belongings which the defendant had bought before she met him. On the return date of the interim injunction Proudman J refused to continue the injunction as regards the belongings on the basis that the evidence provided by the Defendant showed that there was no serious issue to be tried as to their ownership. The potential proceeds of sale of the flat remained protected pursuant to undertakings given by the Defendant’s solicitors.

In February 2014 the Claimant was made the subject (by consent) of an “unless” order for the provision of Part 18 information as to the basis on which he maintained his claims. He failed to comply. Rather than seek to have the claims struck out at that stage the Defendant waited for disclosure and exchange of witness evidence expecting (correctly) that disclosure would undermine the claim to the flat and that there would be no evidence to support the claims to the belongings. As the Claimant would not discontinue, the Defendant applied for summary judgment and a declaration that the claim stood struck out. Shortly before that application was to be heard the Claimant agreed to discontinue on the terms set out above. The court ordered an interim payment on account of costs of £220,000 to be made by the Claimant and his litigation friend Keith Cousins.

Inaccurate reports of the initiation of the proceedings resulted in the Defendant securing damages from 2 national newspapers.

William McCormick QC, instructed by Sue Thackeray of HowardKennedyFSI LLP acted for the Defendant