Family Law Hub

Contempt of Court

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  • The parties lived together for about 20 years before separating, and had five children together, but never married. This was an application from the female partner for an order that the male partner be sanctioned for multiple breaches of a freezing order. He in turn argued that any breach of the freezing order was inadvertent. It was accepted by both parties that the relevant account was left depleted by the sum of £13,015.94. Cobb J found that the male partner's narrative was "simply implausible", and his explanations "contrived and disingenuous". He had treated the account as his personal account. He had breached the freezing order, and the breaches had been knowing and deliberate. Sanctions would be decided at a subsequent hearing. Judgment, 26/05/2020, free
  • An appeal brought by the court itself, alleging contempt. The matter arose out of proceedings relating to the respondent's son. The mother had refused him contact with the child, and then raised allegations of coercive control and domestic violence. At the hearing the father made comments that were considered threatening. Moor J found that there was contempt in the face of the court. It was clear that he was threatening to pursue access to the child outside the court process and irrespective of court orders. However, the sentence was suspended for one year and reduced to two months in prison. Judgment, 07/04/2020, free
  • The parties had been in dispute about the beneficial ownership of a valuable property. The former husband sought permission to appeal from findings of fact made in contempt of court proceedings. He contended that despite being an unrepresented litigant he had given evidence without being informed of his right to silence. Peter Jackson LJ found that the court could not be satisfied that no injustice had occurred. If the husband had been informed that he was not obliged to give evidence, he might not have done so. This was a procedural irregularity serious enough to justify the granting of permission to appeal, and the appeal should be allowed. Popplewell LJ agreed. Judgment, 17/03/2020, free
  • Seven summonses were before Cohen J. One was the wife's judgment summons, claiming the husband had not paid the sums due under the order and requesting committal. The husband admitted that he was in arrears, but argued that he was unable to pay. Looking at his expenditure, Cohen J was satisfied that that was not the case, and found him to be in contempt of court. Consideration of what punishment to impose was adjourned to a later hearing, and the husband was directed to file information and evidence regarding the claimed changes in his circumstances. Judgment, 12/11/2019, free
  • Sentencing of husband for contempt of court was adjourned until after the financial remedy hearing, at which the husband's ability to pay might emerge. Judgment, 22/11/2018, free

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