Case Law: Brand v Berki, Summary Judgment granted in harassment claim

3 11 2015

BrandOn 28 October 2015 Jay J entered summary judgment in favour of Russell Brand and Jemima Goldsmith in their claim for harassment against masseuse Szilvia Berki and granted them a permanent injunction.  The case had been listed for trial on 30 November 2015 with a time estimate of 4-5 days.

The background to the case can be found in the judgment granting an interim injunction until trial (Brand & Anor v Szilvia (aka Sylvie) Berki [2014] EWHC 2979 (QB))(see our case comment).  In short, there had been an encounter between the parties at the second claimant’s home, and a dispute as to what happened. The defendant complained about the treatment she had allegedly sustained to the police, and also to a number of newspapers. The claimants’ case was that the defendant’s conduct amounted to harassment, which had caused them anxiety and distress.

Jay J gave an ex tempore judgment which is summarised on the Lawtel website.

The Judge noted that the defendant has been debarred from producing further evidence at trial.  Her first four witness statements had been served late.  The defendant sought to excuse this on the basis that she was acting in person, was disabled and had not understood the order.  The defendant’s history of non-compliance weighted against her.  However, in all the circumstances relief from sanctions was granted in relation to these witness statements

In relation to summary judgment the Judge noted that the defendant’s case had morphed over time and she had made a number of threats.  There were obvious inconsistencies in her account.

When considering the defence of reasonableness under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Judge held that the Court had to adopt an Article 10 compliant approach.  The Court had to be persuaded that there was no prospect of success.

Fourteen months had passed since the initial injunction had been granted, disclosure had occurred and the picture was more complete.  Looking at all the material objectively, the defendant’s motive was to harass the claimants.  She did not have a real prospect of success at trial.  It was very unlikely that she could show that she had reasonable grounds for embarking on her course of conduct.

In the circumstances the claimants were granted a final harassment injunction.


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