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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70524
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, My parents neighbour appears to be suffering from some

Customer Question

Hi,
My parents' neighbour appears to be suffering from some kind of mental health issues and he has recently started to claim they are harassing him. He has built a significant extension on an existing party wall that divides the two properties, despite not receiving my parents' consent to do so, and claimed they will pay for half of it. They have recently received a letter from his solicitor claiming he will take legal action if they continue to harass him. Additionally, he has accused them of a number of ludicrous things such as threatening to kill him and breaking into his house (they are both pensioners and my father has difficulty walking without his stick).
Although his claims are entirely baseless, given the potential legal costs involved if he were to take this to court, how would you advise them to proceed? Would a restraining order be the best solution in the short term?
Thank you
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Its not that easy to seek a rememdy for this. The issue here is basically that he is making either baseless or wildly exagerated claims. He is a vexatious accuser. You will find a very informative ariticle upon people like him here
http://www.1itl.com/news/270/
In fact, it is only in the last five years that there is any remedy at all for this type of conduct. There is no prospect realistically of a restraining order.
What you may be able to do is sue in harassment. The case of Waxman does confirm that making false allegations can be part of a course of harassment but it doesn't go so far as to say that it is all that is required. In Waxman there had been more traditional forms of harassment of the target which ultimately culminated in him issuing against her at court.
There is no case law that says that making allegations alone is sufficient. There is an earlier case called Allen where the issue of whether litigation alone was sufficient was considered and not rejected outright but the case was decided on other ratio so it doesn't form a binding ruling. It does amount to persuasive argument.
In truth though, I think that if you could prove that the allegations were baseless or exagerations and there were a large number of them then a court would probably accept this amounted to harassment.
The difficulty would be what type of order is appropriate. It is quite unlikely you will get an order that prevents him ever calling the police or instructing solicitors although you would probably get something that said save for reasonable circumstances. That is all very well but the problem is that he is an unreasonable person who cannot see the difference between the type of thing that is suitable for litigation and the type of thing that is not.
Overall, though, its probably better to have the order than not. I have successfully got orders in a limited number of circumstances but all of them involved women who were using allegations of domestic abuse and sexual violence to point score off their partners. The principle is the same here though so it should be possible.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi,


 


Thank you for your response although I'm still a little confused. You say it's unlikely that they would be able to get a restraining order which I understand, and a different order which would prevent him from contacting the police or his solicitors save for reasonable circumstances would be possible, but what effect would that have if he intends on taking this further anyway? If he wants to tell his solicitors to proceed that that would surely be deemed a 'reasonable' circumstance. You mention suing him for harassment but that would no doubt be the costliest and most stressful option, no?



Surely the burden of proof is on him rather than on my parents to prove he is making false accusations?



Thanks

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
If you sue for harassment then you seek a civil injunction not a restraining order.

No, the burden is on your parents to prove its a false accusation as they bring the case.

Its not an easy claim.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, thank you. So it appears suing him would be the most effective solution. Would there be any way to ask that his mental health be assessed/taken into consideration? I am fairly confident this has influenced his behaviour, given the absurd nature of his claims. Surely there must be some way of taking this into account when defending oneself against these?


 


Thank you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No, not really. Its not for the Court to do that and anyway doesn't make any difference to the wrongdoing of the situation. Whether he is disturbed or not he still shouldnt' be making false claims.

From the point of view of defending yourself from his allegations, the unreasonable nature of his claims would be considered but the Court still wouldn't actually assess him.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you again. Finally, assuming this did go to court and my parents were to have to pay legal fees, what are the chances of being able to recoup these from the accuser if the case is thrown out/he loses?


 


Thanks

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, but they are not enormous for harassment. Under £1000 usually.
If they succeed they will be able to recover from him.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That's great, thank you for your time.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No problem and all the best.

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