Statutory contempt of court
Produced in partnership with Richard Wayman of Pump Court Chambers
Statutory contempt of court

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:

  • Statutory contempt of court
  • The Contempt of Court Act 1981
  • Active proceedings
  • Substantial risk of serious impediment or prejudice
  • Procedure for statutory contempt
  • Defences
  • Section 3 defences
  • Section 4 defence
  • Section 5 defence
  • Penalties for statutory contempt of court
  • More...

The Contempt of Court Act 1981

The Contempt of Court Act 1981 (CCA 1981) provides for strict liability contempt or indirect contempt of the kind committed by newspapers or others (including private citizens reporting on social media) who publish an article which may interfere with forthcoming legal proceedings. This was previously known as the sub judice rule.

The following elements are required:

  1. a publication (which includes any communication, in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public)

  2. which creates a substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings in question will be seriously impeded or prejudiced, and

  3. the proceedings are active

The CCA 1981 does not alter but supports the common law. Its principal effects are:

  1. to limit liability for contempt under the strict liability absolute offence rule

  2. to identify specific conduct as contempt of court

  3. to give some protection for witnesses asked to reveal their sources of information published in a publication for which they are responsible

  4. to provide courts with the power to give directions restricting the publication of matters that are exempt from disclosure in court

  5. to provide for specific offences of contempt of magistrates' courts, and

  6. to provide penalties for contempt of court

For more information on the criminal offence at common law of contempt of court, see Practice Note: Criminal contempt of court—common law

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