Slide 1: Contempt – Origins and current definitionThe courts need power to control those who may interfere with the judicial process. Contempt of court is a product of the inherent jurisdiction, a body of law created by the courts to protect its proceedings. As shown in 3 Dyer at 188b, the Court adopted a harsher approach with regards to contempt of court. In this case, Chief Justice Salisbury had an object thrown at him by the Defendant. The judge subsequently had his hand removed and the defendant was executed in the court itself. However, more recently, the Courts are seen to be have taken a relaxed approach in comparison to what it was then. R v Powell illustrates the recent type of punishment available with regards to contempt. Notably, over 20 years, contempt of court has lost what it used to have and the attorney general has to be more forceful in enforcement as mentioned by Desmond Brown, Queen’s Counsel. Contempt of court is a common law criminal offence, where a summary judgement without a full trial will be handed down by the same judge who felt aggrieved by the defendant’s behaviour. For contempt of court it is not un-common to be liable for a summary criminal conviction without a full trial. In R v Powell, it was held that a man who was sitting in a public gallery was sentenced to 14 days jail as he was wolf whistling at a female juror.
Slide 2:Civil and Criminal contempt are the two categories. Civil contempt consist of refusing to obey court orders where there is a private loss and even though it’s known as civil contempt it can be punishable criminally, so someone who disobeys a court order can go to prison. On the other hand, criminal contempt is interfering with the due administration of justice. In this context the damage in the courts view is to the court itself. Criminal contempt are general acts which interferes with the administration of justice. Notably, contempt in the face of the court is the most common type of contempt. Lord Denning gave a definition of this type of contempt. As read in ‘’The Due process of Law 1980 Butterworth’s’’, Lord Denning mentioned that, ‘Contempt in the face of the court ‘refers to contempt which the judges can see with his own eyes, therefore requires no evidence of witnesses. He can then deal with the contempt himself. Examples of contempt in the face of the court includes shouting insults or threats at witnesses, throwing things at a judge or staging a protest in the foyer of the court building. All these can be classed as contempt in the face of the court. In the case of Balogh, Balogh decided he would attempt to pump laughing gas into the court room. He was subsequently intercepted by the police, who found all his preparations in the roof of the court building. He was sentenced to 6 months in jail for contempt in the face of the court. The Judge relied on statements by the police and not his own observations. On his appeal, Lord denning said 1) The Judge still had power to imprison someone for contempt without trial but that they should do so only in extreme cases 2) The actions complained of did not have to take place in that judges court room 3) The actions did not have to be directly observed by the judge 4) That the summary procedure available for contempt in the face of the court were also available for certain types of action completely outside of the court. Judging from the said case, we may infer that contempt in the face of court need not be based on the judge’s own observation but statement by police may be relied on as well.
Slide 3:Other types of contempt include scandalising the court or judiciary. Lord denning mentioned in the ‘Denning in the Due Process of Law’, judges of a court may punish the offender if they are criticized or defamed or scandalised. The rationale behind it was not to protect themselves as individuals but to preserve the authority of the court. As shown in the case of R v Almon , Lord Mansfield was accused of illegally, officiously and arbitrarily executing his duties. The defendant publicly criticized Lord Mansfield, the courts held that the defendant was guilty because by inference he was criticizing the whole court. Notably, this does not comply with modern views of freedom of speech at Article 10 - Freedom of Expression as read in the Human Rights Act . This is an example of how international inference may affect contempt of court. As read in Commissioner of police of the Metropolis (ex parte Blackburn), it was said that the courts will never use this jurisdiction as a means to uphold their own dignity nor will they use it to supress those who speak against them. This case was held before the HRA 1998 came into force, so the judges were confident on the development of the law. In the latest development on scandalising the court, the Crime and Courts Act s.33 states that scandalising the judiciary is abolished as a form of contempt of court under the common law of England and Wales. Nevertheless, shouting insults at a judge can still be contempt in the face of a court. It may now be said the modern view on scandalising the court complies with freedom of speech to some extent.;interference with participants. This include behaviours which may occur away from the court such as putting undue pressure on witnesses, jurors, parties in relation to trial or punishing participants because of what they did /said in a trial or preventing a person from legitimate access to lawyers and the courts. ; putting undue pressure on participants during legal proceedings. In R v MichealGerogeGiscombe, it was held that interference with jurors is also potentially contempt of court. Similarly, it applies to legal representatives as seen in Re Johnson, which concerns a solicitor who confronted another with horrific and frightful language. This was held to be contempt. The principle is that those who have duties to discharge in a court of justice are protected by the law, and are shielded on their way to the discharge of such duties. ; Punishing participants because of what they did / said in trial is where one treats somebody adversely after a trial because of their legitimate participation in a trial. It can in some circumstances be a contempt of court as illustrated in the case of Attorney General v Butterworth where it was held victimisation of a witness is a contempt of court, whether done whilst the proceedings are still pending or after they have finished.; Interference with a person’s access to the courts can be considered an illegal interference with the administration of justice. In Raymond V Honey, it was held that by inhibiting suitors from availing themselves of their constitutional right to have their legal rights and obligations ascertained and enforced by courts of law could amount to contempt of court.
Most of the common law rules addresses the sub judice rule. Following the case of Attorney General v Times Newspapers Ltd, the 1981 act was passed down in view of clarifying the law in order to provide better protection for the press and so as to adhere to article 6 and 10. This will be further elaborated in the later part of the presentation.
Slide 4:Sub judice refers to the publishing of materials which is intended or does interfere with an issue which will be considered by the court. This type of contempt has come under mass hammering from the public because (article 10) protects the freedom of expression. As a result, the Contempt of Court Act 1981was passed. Publishers include everything from newspapers, web publishers and television broadcasting and over the recent years, the contempt of court act has faced many challenges, whilst attempting to ‘reconcile two sometimes conflicting sets of interests’ Additionally Old Bailey Judge Peter Rook also said “misuse of modern technology is a real threat to the jury system. And so judges must deal with this head on. So as to ensure fair trial (article 6). That means the judge must give clear direction to the jury not to go onto social networking sites to research the case, and must explain why trial must be based upon evidence heard from the trial itself and not unchallenged evidence” as said in Unreliable Evidence BBC 4 . The 1981 act, makes no changes to contempt of court for publications where there is an intent to interfere with a trial. In the Talidomide case - Attorney general v Times NewsPapers. In order to satisfy the element with regards to the 1981 act, the publishing of material must cause a serious risk of a prejudice trial and the contempt must not cover or include fair and temperate comment even if the comments dissuading X from litigating may be fair. In the said case, the first publications was not considered contemptuous by Lord Reid. However, the proposed later editions which suggested that distillers was negligent in law were considered to be contemptuous. Lord Reid goes on to say that it is less likely that judges in the House of Lords and the COA are less likely to be influenced by the press than the judges in the court of first instance but Desmond Browne QC disagreed in an interview Unreliable Evidence BBC 4 .
Slide 5: The contempt of court in relation to sub judice provides better protection for the press in this area of contempt in view to give a better effect under Article 10 of the ECHR. Whilst section 1 to 5 cover liability for publication under the strict liability rule, section states liability for other types of contempt. This suggests that the act is only applicable if the publishers did not intend to interfere in the trial. Notably, there are defences available under the said act such as good faith in public affairs or in matters where the risk of prejudice is merely incidental to discussion. However, one must be aware that Section 5 of the said act is not a defence to the criminal offence under S.41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 which is the prohibition of photograph taking in court.
Slide 7:The English trial is based on an adversary system as illustrated in the case of Jones v National Coal board, an appeal was allowed in the civil trial as the judge had intervened too much in the process which was supposed to be belonged to the parties. Lord Denning was defensive of the adversary process and he quoted Lord Eldon LC and said “the truth is best discovered by powerful statements on both sides of the question”. This was further affirmed in the latter case of Chilton v Saga Holidays Plc. In this case, the claimant was unrepresented and the defendant’s solicitor sought to cross examine him during the trial. The judge declined to permit this instead he said in cases where one side is represented, he did not allow cross examination and all questions from the other side will have to be put through him. The judge decision was said to be a deviation from the traditional adversary approach. This was an attempt in aid of establishing the ‘’equality of arms’’. On appeal, the court held that this was a step too far as the right to cross examine witnesses is an essential part to the adversary nature of the English trial process.
Slide 8: The Civil procedure rules seeks to achieve the objective for courts to deal with cases justly. ‘’Justly’’ in reference to the CPR 1.1 (2) - (a) parties are on equal footing, (b) saving expenses,(c) dealing with cases in ways which are proportionate, (d) ensuring that it is dealt with expeditiously and fairly and lastly, (e) allotting to it an appropriate share of the court’s resources while taking into account of allotting resources to other cases. When it comes to case management, the court will manage each case depending on what track it falls under. As read in CPR 26.6 (1), the small track is for claims for personal injuries where (i) the value of claim is not more than £5,000 and (ii) the value for any claim for damages for personal injuries is not more than £1,000. On the other hand, 26.6 (4) deals with the fast track claims (b)(i) which has a value for proceedings issued on/or after the 6th of April 2009, for not more than £25,000 and (ii) for proceeding issues before 6th of April 2009, of not more than £15,000. Under 26.6 (5), the fast track is the normal track for claims referred to in Paragraph 4 only if the courts consider (a) the trial is not likely to last longer than a day and (b) oral expert evidence at trial will be limited to (i) one expert per party in relation to any expert field and (ii) expert evidence in two fields. In multi-track cases, this is covered by practice direction 7A, the proceedings may not be started in the High Court unless the value of the claim is more than £25,000. In event where the claimant fails to obtain a more advantageous judgement as compared to the defendant, there will be cost consequences following the said judgement. Under 36.14 (1A) (2), the defendant will be (a) entitled to his cost from the date which the relevant period expired and (b) interest on those cost. Similarly, as read in 36.14 (A) (3), the claimant is entitled to (a) interest on the whole part of any sum of money (excluding interest) awarded at a rate not exceeding 10% above base rate for some or all of the period starting with the date on which the relevant period expires , (b) his cost on the indemnity basis from the date on which the relevant period expires and lastly (c) interest in those cost at a rate not exceeding 10% above the base rate.
presentation on contempt of court. publicity and civil justice
LAW002 Assessed Task 2
Contempt of court, Publicity and Civil Justice
Adedotun Olunowo - 201007259
Cassandra Kang - 200903942
Chuks Ushieagu - 200956056
Josh Flew - 200965625
Contempt of Court
What is contempt of court?
Created by courts to protect its proceedings
Prevent interference with judicial process
Common law criminal offence
Summary criminal conviction not uncommon
Case referred: R v Powell  98 Cr. App. R. 224
Product of inherent jurisdiction
Contempt of Court
Two categories: (1) Criminal (2) Civil
Refusing to obey court orders when there is private loss
May be punishable criminally
Most obvious type of contempt
Definition: Lord Denning
E.g. Misbehaving in the court room
Refer to case: Balogh v St. Albans Crown Court (1974)
Contempt of Court
Various types of contempt:
Scandalising the court or the judiciary
Interfering with participants ( or preventing participation)
Putting Undue pressure on participants legal proceedings
Punishing participants because of what they did / said in trial
Preventing a person from legitimate access to lawyers and the courts
Contempt of Court Act 1998
Section 1 – 5 : Strict Liability – No intent to interfere with trial
Section 6 : Preservation of contempt when there is intent
Section 8 : Statutory protection of jury deliberation
Section 9: Prohibition of recording devices
Publishing materials which are intended or does interfere
Only requires intent to publish materials which will be considered by the
Mass hammering from the public
Contempt of Court Act 1981 - respond to fundamental rights
No changes to contempt of court for publications with intent
Refer to: Talidomide case
Contempt of Court Act:
In relation to sub judice
Additional protection for publishers
Liability – Substantial risk
Good faith in public affairs
General public interest
Case: Jones v National Cod Board
Adversary system – Chilton v Saga Holidays Plc
Equality of arms
The overriding objective CPR
Courts to deal with cases justly
Appropriate allocation to track – CPR 26.6
Small track or Fast track or Multi track
Cost consequences following judgement
Ingman T. The English Legal System (Oxford University Press) Pg. 369 – 400
Unreliable Evidence discussion on publicity and contempt with the Attorney General, BBC 4
Pre – actions issues and the CPR
Cram, 'The Law Commission's contempt proposals - getting the balance right' (2013) Criminal