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CONTEMPT: Thursfield v Thursfield

Date:27 JUN 2013
Law Reporter

(Court of Appeal, Lloyd, Jackson, Beatson LJJ, 20 June 2013)

The marriage was dissolved and a financial agreement was reached in Michigan, USA. When the husband failed to comply with the agreement the wife obtained a breach of contract judgment against him which the husband appealed. In the meantime the wife sought to enforce the judgment in England. Freezing and disclosure orders were granted but the husband failed to comply resulting in committal proceedings.

The husband provided disclosure of some information at a very late stage but the judge found him to be in contempt and sentenced him to 24 months' imprisonment. The husband appealed, claiming the sentence was excessive and that he had supplied information. He claimed the judge should have taken into account his age and previous good character.

The appeal was dismissed. It was well established that the court should consider imposing a long sentence where there was a continuing failure to meet disclosure requirements in order to encourage future co-operation.

The defendant's age was not a consideration for the judge. With regards to his character, in the instant proceedings he had persistently failed to comply with court orders and the only attempt he had made had been late and insufficient. The judge was entitled to regard the breaches as serious and although a different judge may have reached a different conclusion, there had been no error in this judge's assessment.