Need for clarity in Contempt Allegation
The defendant appealed from his convictions for contempt of court, being said to have broadcast details of criminal prosecutions despite orders to the contrary. He argued that any failure of procedure was fatal to the prosecutions.
Held: As to the first hearing and contempt finding, the appeal failed.
As to the second, ‘ the failure to follow the requirements of Part 48 of the Rules was much more than a technical failure. In contempt proceedings, touching as they do on the liberty of the subject, there is a need for the contempt in question to be identified with precision and the conduct of the alleged contemnor identified with sufficient particularity to enable him, with the assistance of legal advice, to respond to what is a criminal charge, in all but name. In this case there was no clarity at all about what the appellant was admitting and for what parts of his broadcast he was considered by the judge to be guilty of contempt of court for breach of the section 4(2) order.’
The appeal was allowed and a retrial ordered.
‘the finding of contempt made in Leeds must be quashed because:
(i) It was inappropriate to proceed immediately on the motion of the court to deal with the alleged contempt after immediate steps had been taken to remove the offending video from the internet. An adjournment was necessary to enable the matter to proceed on a fully informed basis; in any event
(ii) The failure to comply with Part 48 of the Rules resulted in there being no clear statement, orally or in writing, of the conduct said to comprise a contempt for contravening the section 4(2) order in place;
(iii) It was unclear what conduct was said to comprise a breach of that order and the appellant was sentenced on the basis of conduct which fell outside the scope of that order;
(iv) The haste with which the contempt proceedings were conducted led to an inability of counsel to mitigate fully on the appellant’s behalf.’
Lord Burnett of Maldon CJ, Turner, McGowan JJ
 EWCA Crim 1856,  WLR(D) 503
Contempt of Court Act 1981 4(2), Criminal Justice Act 1925 41
England and Wales
Cited – M v P (Contempt of Court: Committal Order) CA 1992
Orse Butler v Butler
Failure to observe the proper procedures for service is not necessarily fatal to the lawfulness of a committal order. In each of the two appeals against committal orders comma the contemnor complained of non-compliance . .
Cited – Nicholls v Nicholls CA 20-Dec-1996
The formalities of committal proceedings are to be strictly observed, but a breach of the formalities may be overlooked if it does not affect the justice of the case.
Lord Woolf MR considered the discretion given to a court to commit for . .
Cited – Fort Locks Self Storage Limited v Deakin CA 2017
Cited – Re West CACD 17-Jul-2014
W, a barrister, appealed against a conviction for contempt of court. He had declined to comply with the directions asked of him by the judge at a pre-trial hearing, saying that the client’s instructions that he was not guilty were sufficient. He was . .
Cited – Regina v Montgomery CACD 19-Jul-1994
A witness had refused to give evidence, and found to have committed contempt.
Held: Guidelines were given on sentencing for offences of interfering with the course of justice, criminal contempt, refusal to give evidence and so forth.
The . .
Cited – HM Attorney General v Harkins Admn 26-Apr-2013
The Attorney General sought the committal for contempt of the respondents who were said to have published details which might identify two notorious convicted criminals wose identties were protected by injunction. Both defendants indicated that they . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Contempt of Court
Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.624157