When attaching a power of arrest on a non-molestation order the court should consider attaching it only to that element which restricts violence or proximity rather than to any part relating to harassment. When considering sentence for a breach, the court should consider the full circumstances, including any mitigation, and its full range of powers, and if the contemnor is imprisoned, the court should give full reasons. Suspension will usually be the first way of attempting to secure compliance. The court considered parallel proceedings under the 1997 Act.
The contemnor appealed against his sentence for breach of Family Law Act injunctions. Hale LJ said: ‘We have been told today, and in my view it is relevant to this appeal, that the proceedings in the Oxford Magistrates’ Court were under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and related to complaints of harassment . . between 8 April and 29 December 1999. Thus, there is some overlap between the subject matter of these proceedings and the subject matter of those magistrates’ court proceedings. The outcome, we are told, was a restraining order prohibiting the appellant from contacting either Miss M or the applicant.’ from which ‘Ninthly, in many cases the court will have to bear in mind that there are concurrent proceedings in another court based on either the same facts, or some of the same facts, which are before the court on the contempt proceedings. The court cannot ignore those parallel proceedings. It may have to take into account their outcome in considering what the practical effect is upon the contempt proceedings. They do have different purposes and often the overlap is not exact, but nevertheless the court will not want, in effect, the contemnor to suffer punishment twice for the same events.’ the length of any sentence for committal for contempt must bear some reasonable relationship to the statutory maximum of two years on a committal for a civil contempt.
Times 22-Aug-2000,  FLR 879,  1 WLR 2377
England and Wales
Cited – Turnbull v Middlesbrough Borough Council CA 28-Aug-2003
The defendant appealed a sentence of two years for contempt of court.
Held: Two years was the maximum sentence available, and that should be reserved for the offences of maximum severity. Here there was no violence, and no abuse. The defendant . .
Cited – Lomas v Parle CA 18-Dec-2003
The respondent had been sentenced to two months imprisonment for breaches of orders under the Act. The wife appealed, seeking to increase the sentence. The maximum sentence was two years.
Held: The court had to consider such cases in the light . .
Followed – Aquilina v Aquilina CA 24-Mar-2004
The applicant appealed a sentence of six months imprisonment for breaches of a non-molestation injunction.
Held: The breaches had been non-violent, and the court had not considered whether he was prepared to purge his contempt. A balance had . .
Cited – Devjee v Patel CA 18-Aug-2006
The appellant challenged findings that he had broken a non-molestation order. He said that the order had been obtained by means whch were procedurally defective. The original order had been made without notice, and with a power of arrest attached. . .
Cited – Goldsmith v Goldsmith CA 31-Oct-2006
Appeal against sentence of twelve months’ imprisonment for breach of non-molestation order.
On finding breaches of a non-molestation order, the court may not impose a custodial sentence on the contemnor without first hearing his mitigation. . .
Cited – Hammerton v Hammerton CA 23-Mar-2007
The husband appealed against his committal for contempt of a court order in family proceedings. The court had heard the wife’s application for his committal at the same time as his application for contact with the children.
Held: The appeal . .
Cited – Slade v Slade CA 17-Jul-2009
Contempt sentence to reflect existing punishment
The wife appealed against a sentence of imprisonment imposed for a second contempt of court. She said that the behaviour complained of had already been dealt with in criminal proceedings.
Held: The sentence was reduced. The second court should . .
Cited – Aspect Capital Ltd v Christensen ChD 29-Mar-2010
The defendant, a former senior employee had appeared dishonest and been dismissed. A search and seizure order was obtained, and the claimant now said that the defendant was in contempt of it. The parties disputed the extent of his admissions of . .
Cited – Crystal Mews Ltd v Metterick and Others ChD 13-Nov-2006
The court considered the punishment on finding contempt proved for breach of a freezing order: ‘In contempt cases the object of the penalty is both to punish conduct in defiance of the court’s order as well as serving a coercive function by holding . .
Cited – Erhire v E O-I (by his next friend) CA 24-Mar-2011
The mother appealed against a sentence of eight months imprisonment imposed for contempt of court in having broken an order intended to protect the child against being removed to Nigeria with a view to forcing him into a marriage. On complaint of a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Family, Contempt of Court
Updated: 10 May 2022; Ref: scu.81140