Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Steps taken by a Respondent to “purge” his contempt
Committal to prison is the ultimate sanction and, as such, the Courts are generally reluctant to make such an order, unless the breach is serious.
Often the Respondent is given an opportunity to “purge his contempt” by swearing a supplemental Affidavit setting out the true position in relation to his assets and / or remedying any previous failure to comply with the terms of the Order. However, even if the court is satisfied that the supplemental Affidavit is now giving a truthful picture, it will generally punish the Respondent by making him pay all of the Applicants wasted legal costs in making the application and these can often be very significant indeed. The costs penalty is made because the committal application was only necessary in the first place due to the Respondent’s non-compliance with the terms of the Freezing Order.
Even if the Court is not minded to commit an individual to prison for contempt, it can impose a fine on the Respondent and also order seizure of certain assets. If the Court is minded to commit an individual to prison, the maximum period is 2 years, although it is highly likely that it will be for a far lower period than that.
Benefits of committal applications
Committal may often be a very useful weapon in the Applicants armoury. It can often put the Respondent under extreme pressure and may even result in early settlement of the claim itself. It also sends out a strong message to a Respondent that the Applicant will not tolerate any non-compliance with the terms of the Freezing Order and will, if necessary, make other appropriate applications to the court in order to ensure that the Respondent complies with the terms of the Freezing Order.
Writ of Sequestration.
Another means of enforcing a Freezing Order is a writ of sequestration. This is a very severe remedy indeed and is most commonly used in family cases to enforce a Freezing Order. It is rarely used to enforce money judgements. Effectively, sequestrators(akin to receivers) will take control of a Respondent’s property until the individual has put right the contempt. Entitlement to any property remains that of the Respondent, but it cannot be dealt with until such time as the contempt is remedied.
Similar service provisions (as regards documents) exist to those of ordinary contempt proceedings and the requirements evidentially are similar as well.
If the Writ is executed, specific powers are given to High Court Enforcement Officers to enable them to carry out the Sequestration by, for example, taking possession of the Respondent’s assets or collecting rent from properties. Enforcement is carried out by the High Court Enforcement Officer who takes control of the property until the person in contempt has remedied the breach. Such rules can even be made where there are no assets in the jurisdiction.