Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales has today
issued a Practice Direction governing the process of hearings for committal to
prison, including suspended committal, for contempt of court.
This Practice Direction applies to all proceedings for committal for contempt of court, including contempt in the face of the court, whether arising under any statutory or inherent jurisdiction and, particularly, supplements the provisions relating to contempt of court in the Civil Procedure Rules 1998, the Family Procedure Rules 2010, the Court of Protection Rules 2007, and the Criminal Procedure Rules 2014 and any related Practice Directions supplementing those various provisions.
'Open justice is a fundamental principle. The general rule is
that hearings are carried out in, and judgments and orders are made in, public.
This rule applies to all hearings, whether on application or otherwise, for
committal for contempt irrespective of the court in which they are heard or of
the proceedings in which they arise.'
It requires in all cases where an
individual is found to have committed a contempt of court and been sentenced to
a term of imprisonment or a suspended term of imprisonment that the court making
the order must, sitting in public, set out the following: the name of the
person; the nature of the sentence; and, in general terms, the nature of the
It also requires these details and a written judgment to be
provided to the press and the Judicial Office website.
It does so in
order to ensure that no one is committed prison without these details being made
This Direction is made by the Lord Chief Justice with the
concurrence of the Lord Chancellor, following consultation with the Master of
the Rolls, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, President of the Family
Division and of the Court of Protection, and Chancellor of the High Court.Practice Direction: Committal for Contempt of Court – Open Court is available to download here.