Civil contempt proceedings—appeals, purges and discharge
Produced in partnership with Alexander West of Albion Chambers

The following Dispute Resolution practice note produced in partnership with Alexander West of Albion Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Civil contempt proceedings—appeals, purges and discharge
  • The right to appeal
  • Defendant’s right to appeal—an unintended lacuna?
  • The strict time limits for appeal (claimant and defendant)
  • Appeals against ‘sentence’ or committal for contempt
  • Claimant’s appeal and relevant jurisdiction
  • Purging or discharging a contempt
  • Procedural requirements
  • The relevant test
  • Genuine contrition is required

Civil contempt proceedings—appeals, purges and discharge

This Practice Note examines the law surrounding appeals in respect of contempt proceedings under CPR 81 (also referred to as ‘committal proceedings’), both for the claimant and defendant, whether appealing in relation to the finding of contempt or the sentence imposed. It also considers the process by which an individual’s contempt can be discharged (in modern terminology) or purged (in old-fashioned terminology).

The right to appeal

A defendant has an absolute right of appeal against being committed to prison for contempt (ie no permission to appeal is first required) (Baho v Meerza and CPR 81.8(7)). For more information on this case, see News Analysis: Court of Appeal, committal appeals and Mitchell (Baho v Meerza).

Section 13 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 (AJA 1960) provides a procedure for appeal in cases of contempt of court, and states to which court an appeal lies:

  1. from an inferior court to the High Court

  2. from the High Court to the Court of Appeal

  3. from a High Court appeal, or from the Divisional Court or the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court

The court in National Highways Ltd v Buse confirmed that where the appeal is from the Divisional Court to the Supreme Court, permission to appeal is required pursuant to AJA 1960, s 13 (see paras [60]–[62]).

CPR 81.8(7) provides that the court shall inform

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