Regina v Horsham Justices ex parte Farquharson: CA 1982

The Court was asked whether the justices had had power under section 4(2) to impose reporting restrictions on committal proceedings pending the trial to which they related..
Held: They had. A premature publication in contravention of a postponement order under section 4(2) of which the publisher was aware is a contempt of court notwithstanding section 6(b). The section creates a new head of contempt, separate and distinct from the strict liability rule.
Shaw LJ: ‘The words ‘pending or imminent’ have been held to include the possible (not necessarily the inevitable) outcome of legal process’.
Lord Denning (dissenting): ‘[Counsel] suggested that once an order is made by a court under section 4(2), and a newspaper publishes in breach of it, then the newspaper is automatically guilty of a contempt of court without any inquiry as to whether the order was rightly made or not. I cannot accept this suggestion for one moment. It would mean that every court in the land would be given a new power, by its own order, to postpone indefinitely publication in the newspapers of the whole or any part of the proceedings before it, or in another court. Such an order could be made, and would be made, against the newspaper without their having any notice of it or any opportunity of being heard on it. They have no right of appeal against it. It could be done on the application of one party, and the acquiescence of the other, without the court itself giving much, if any, thought to the public interest. It would be nothing more nor less than a power, by consent of the parties, to muzzle the press. . . Parliament has, I think, guarded against this danger. It has done so by [section 6(b)].’ and ‘It has long been settled that the courts have power to make an order postponing publication (but not prohibiting it) if the postponement is necessary for the furtherance of justice in proceedings which are pending or imminent. It was so held in [Clement] which was approved by the House of Lords in Scott v Scott . .’
Ackner LJ gave his view of the object of section 4(2): ‘First of all, the power is a power to postpone, not to prohibit totally, publication. Secondly, the power may be exercised in relation to only a part of the proceedings. Thirdly, that in order for the jurisdiction to be exercised the court must be satisfied that an order is necessary for avoiding a substantial risk of prejudice to the administration of justice. The obvious case for the postponement of a report of proceedings is where the substantive trial or retrial has yet to take place, or where a fair and accurate report of one trial might still prejudice another trial still to be heard. The prejudice to the administration of justice which is envisaged is the reduction in the power of the court of doing that which is the end for which it exists – namely, to administer justice duly, impartially, and with reference solely to the facts judicially brought before it: per Wills J. in Rex v. Parke [1903] 2.K.B. 432, 438, 444. What the court is generally concerned with is the position of a juryman who, unlike the judge, has neither the training nor the experience to assist him in putting out of his mind matter which are not evidence in the case.’

Lord Denning MR, Shaw and Ackner LJJ
[1982] 1 QB 762
Contempt of Court Act 1981 4(1) 4(2)
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Poulson and Pottinger CACD 1974
The trial judge said that he did not see how the press could report the evidence in the case without running the risk of being in contempt of other criminal proceedings which had already begun against Poulson and other defendants in respect of . .
CitedAttorney-General v Leveller Magazine Ltd HL 1-Feb-1979
The appellants were magazines and journalists who published, after committal proceedings, the name of a witness, a member of the security services, who had been referred to as Colonel B during the hearing. An order had been made for his name not to . .

Cited by:
CitedRegina v Legal Aid Board ex parte Kaim Todner (a Firm of Solicitors) CA 10-Jun-1998
Limitation on Making of Anonymity Orders
A firm of solicitors sought an order for anonymity in their proceedings against the LAB, saying that being named would damage their interests irrespective of the outcome.
Held: The legal professions have no special part in the law as a party . .
CitedHM Attorney General v Yaxley-Lennon QBD 9-Jul-2019
Application by Her Majesty’s Attorney General for an order committing the respondent to prison for contempt of court. . .
CitedTimes Newspapers Ltd and others v Regina CACD 30-Jul-2007
The newspaper and other media companies appealed from an order restricting the reporting of parts of the evidence given in a trial for an offence under the 1989 Act. The objected that the order did not serve, as required, to protect any proceedings, . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contempt of Court, Media

Updated: 05 January 2022; Ref: scu.198078