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COMMITTAL: Double jeopardy

24 February 2012  

James Brown looks at the Court of Appeal’s approach to committal for consecutive terms of imprisonment for contempt of court

Family practitioners will be familiar with the question a client may ask as to what happens if the other party ignores a court order. We explain that to ignore a court order is contempt of court and that the ultimate sanction is for the person in breach to be committed to prison. We know, however, that this is not always the ideal solution. Imprisonment does not guarantee achieving what your client actually wants, such as the return of a child or payment of a lump sum. It is very much a sanction of last resort with the hope that by the threat of a prison sentence the party will be coerced into compliance.

Additional Info

  • Case(s) Referenced:

    Re A (abduction: contempt) [2008] EWCA Civ 1138

    Kumari v Jalal [1996] 2 FLR 588

    Villiers v Villiers [1994] 2 All ER 149

    Re W (a child) (abduction: committal) [2011] EWCA Civ 1196

Last modified on 21 December 2015