Walton v Kirk: QBD 3 Apr 2009

Coulson J considered RSC Order 52 to decide whether he had jurisdiction to hear a complaint of contempt of court arising from statements filed in County Court proceedings and said to be false.
Held: He did have jurisdiction: ‘At the outset of the trial, I raised with the parties my concern as to jurisdiction. This concern arose out of the somewhat convoluted terms of RSC 52.1 which, on one reading, appeared to suggest that, whilst a High Court Judge had the power to consider committal proceedings arising out of contempt in the face of the County Court, only the Divisional Court could deal with a committal if the contempt arose otherwise in connection with those proceedings. Given that, pursuant to RSC 52.1 (3), a High Court Judge has the jurisdiction to deal with a contempt of court of any description arising in the High Court, this distinction, if that is what it was, seemed anomalous.
When I raised the matter, both counsel submitted that I did have the necessary jurisdiction, and they both disavowed any intention to take a jurisdiction point. On the contrary, they both indicated that their respective clients wanted me to try the case. They pointed to the fact that Silber J had dealt with a very similar case in Swansea just over two years ago (Caerphilly County Borough Council v Matthew Hughes and others, 1st December 2006, unreported). They also made the point that the issue of jurisdiction had been considered by Cox J in the present case in June/July 2008, when she concluded that she had the necessary jurisdiction to grant permission for the claim to be brought before and tried by a High Court Judge.
Both Silber and Cox JJ referred to and relied upon CPR 32.14 . . In the light of the cases referred to above, I have concluded that, despite the opaque nature of RSC 52.1, CPR 32.14 does provide a High Court Judge with the necessary jurisdiction to deal with a committal for contempt of court arising out of documents verified in the County Court by way of a statement of truth. I consider that this conclusion is strengthened by reference to Malgar Limited v Re Leach Engineering Limited (1st November 1999, unreported), a decision of the Vice-Chancellor in the Chancery Division, and the decision of Pumfrey J granting permission for a committal application in Sony Computer Entertainment and Others v Ball and Others [2004] EWHC 1192 (Ch).’
Coulson J
[2009] EWHC 703 (QB)
Rules of the Supreme Court 52.1, Civil Procedure Rules 32.14
England and Wales
See AlsoKirk v Walton QBD 24-Jul-2008
The defendant sought leave to bring proceedings for contempt of court against the claimant saying that she had had no honest belief in the matters deposed in her statement of truth, in that she had substantially exaggerated her injuries.
Held: . .

Cited by:
CitedStobart Group Ltd and Others v Elliott QBD 11-Apr-2013
The defendant applied to the court for various officers of the cliamant companies to be subject to contempt proceedings. The claimants asked the court to strike of the defendant’s counterclaim and to make a civil restraint order against him. There . .

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Updated: 14 February 2021; Ref: scu.341881