Contempt of Court
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13 December 2009
By Riyaz Jariwalla
If you have obtained a court order which includes an order
(other than for the payment of money) against the Defendant ("D"By Riyaz
Jariwalla) and D has disobeyed the order. D is said to have commited a civil
contempt of court and is described as a contemnor. Because you have
obtained the order, you may apply to the court for D to be committed to prison
or for D's assets to be sequestrated (seized) by officers of the court.
The test we need to satisfy
To show that D is in contempt, it must be established that D's
conduct was intentional and that D knew of all the facts which made that conduct
a breach of the order.
An act which contravenes a court order in civil proceedings may
be both a civil contempt of court and a criminal offence. There is no abuse of
process in bringing both criminal proceedings and proceedings for civil contempt
in respect of the same act (the case of Director of Public Prosecutions v
Tweddell  EWHC 188 (Admin),  2 FLR 400), though the
court hearing the second proceeding should take into account any punishment
Lee, note that punishment for a civil contempt of court is not
in itself a remedy: it is a means of enforcing a remedy. A civil contempt of
court is prosecuted as a matter between parties to proceedings and is punishable
primarily in order to enforce compliance with an order of the court, for the
benefit of the party who obtained the order. Enforcing respect for court orders
also serves the public interest of promoting respect for the rule of law. Please
do not use this process to get some sort of revenge against the D.
How many years?
A court may commit a contemnor to prison for up to two years (Contempt
of Court Act 78.2 1981, s. 14(1)).
An application is made to the Patents County Court and must
identify the proceedings in which the application is made and bear the same
title and reference number. An application notice or claim form applying for a
committal order must set out in full the grounds on which the committal
application is made and should identify, separately and numerically, each
alleged act of contempt. It must be supported by an affidavit.
When lodging the application notice or claim form with the court
for issue or filing, the applicant must obtain a date for the hearing of the
An application notice applying for a committal order must be
served personally on D, unless the court dispenses with service, which it may if
it thinks it just to do so. It may be appropriate to dispense with service in
cases of urgency, or where there have been persistent breaches of court orders,
or the respondent is evading service. There must be at least 14 clear days
between the service of the application and the date of the hearing, unless the
court orders otherwise. When served, the application notice or claim form must
be accompanied by a copy of the supporting affidavit.
Note, that the High Court has an inherent power to issue a bench
warrant for the arrest of an alleged contemnor to secure his or her attendance
£75 - Court fee for applications; and
£2,000 - £3,000 plus VAT for preparing and drafting application
for contempt (does not include attending hearing).
For more information please contact us on 023 8023 5979
or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Riyaz Jariwalla is a solicitor who specialises in
intellectual property law and civil litigation.
About the Author
Lawdit Solicitors offer services and
advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal
agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on
Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court
Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign
association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-12-31 06:41:46 in Legal Articles