Criminal contempt of court—common law offence
Produced in partnership with Richard Wayman of Pump Court Chambers
Criminal contempt of court—common law offence

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Richard Wayman of Pump Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Criminal contempt of court—common law offence
  • Criminal contempt of court
  • Contempt by witnesses
  • Contempt from the public gallery
  • Contempt by jurors
  • Disobeying court orders/abusing the courts process
  • Summary contempt procedure
  • Contempt in the face of the court
  • Procedure under the Criminal Procedure Rules
  • Penalties for criminal contempt
  • More...

Criminal contempt of court—common law offence

In summarising the law of contempt of court, the Court of Appeal has stated:

‘The law of contempt exists to protect the course of proceedings from interference, to safeguard the fairness and integrity of proceedings and to ensure that orders of the court are obeyed. It comes in many forms, both statutory and under the common law.’

There are two main forms of contempt: criminal and civil. For information on civil contempt of court, see: Contempt and committal—overview.

For guidance on the approach to be taken in sentencing for contempt by the civil courts, where a criminal court has sentenced a defendant for broadly similar matters, see Corbiere Ltd v Xu and News Analysis: The interplay in sentencing between twinned criminal and contempt of court proceedings. See also Practice Note: Civil contempt proceedings—illustrative decisions.

The Contempt of Court Act 1981 (CCA 1981) provides for strict liability contempt or indirect contempt of the kind committed by newspapers who publish an article which may prejudice a forthcoming trial. In addition, there are a number of statutory provisions that make certain conduct punishable as if it were contempt of court. See Practice Note: Statutory contempt of court.

Criminal contempt of court

Criminal contempt of court is defined in common law as 'an act or omission calculated to interfere with the due administration of justice'. It must be proved

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