Kitcat v Sharp: 1882

The plaintiff clergyman had begun his action for rescission of a contract with the defendant for misrepresentattion. The defendant sent him a ‘private and confidential’ letter threatening publication of the pleadings with comments depreciating the plaintiff. The plaintiff had previously refused to enter into further direct communication with the defendant.
Held: The defendant could not, by a marking of the letter, impose on the plaintiff any condition as to its use. The letter was admissible, containing ‘a threat if an offer is not accepted’.
A superior court which has power to punish contempts, and power to issue injunctions, may also grant an injunction to restrain a threatened contempt In granting such an injunction, Fry J said: ‘There are three different sorts of contempt. One is scandalizing the Court itself. There may be likewise contempt of Court in abusing parties who are concerned in causes here. There may be also a contempt of this Court in prejudicing mankind against persons before the cause is heard. ‘ and
‘It appears to me I have plainly jurisdiction to prevent the threatened conduct. Only observe what would be the effect if I had not the jurisdiction. It would be that the Court, seeing that a fair trial is likely to be interfered with by a contempt of Court, would be powerless to prevent such contempt, and powerless to prevent the fair trial from being interfered with.’


Fry J


(1882) 48 LT 64, (1882) 52 LJ CH 134, [1882] 31 WR 227


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedSavings and Investment Bank Ltd (In Liquidation) v Fincken CA 14-Nov-2003
Parties to litigation had made without prejudice disclosures. One party sought to give evidence contradicting the dsclosure, and the other now applied for leave to amend based upon the without prejudice statements to be admitted to demonstrate the . .
CitedRush and Tomkins Ltd v Greater London Council HL 3-Nov-1988
The parties had entered into contracts for the construction of dwellings. The contractors sought payment. The council alleged shortcomings in the works. The principal parties had settled the dispute, but a sub-contractor now sought disclosure of the . .
CitedHubbard v Woodfield 1913
. .
CitedRe William Thomas Shipping Co, Dillon (HW) and Sons Ltd v The Company, Re Thomas (Sir Robert) 1930
. .
CitedAlterskye v Scott 1948
The obligation of confidentiality for documents disclosed during litigation discovery includes a duty being: ‘the implied undertaking, under which a party obtaining discovery is, not to use documents for any collateral or ulterior purpose.’ . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Evidence, Contempt of Court

Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.188465