Contempt of Court – Respondent must be warned about self-incrimination

Monday, 27 April 2020 | Marc Livingston

Applications for Committal for contempt of court in civil proceedings are a niche and distinctive area of law. They are of a quasi-criminal nature, but exist within the framework of Civil Procedure, thus combining two separate fields of law that tend not to interact with each other. However, at Janes Solicitors, our criminal solicitors, armed with their extensive knowledge and experience of criminal law, work hand-in-hand with our civil practitioners in order to ensure that we are uniquely placed to provide a full a full service in this area, including obtaining the appropriate legal aid that parties may be entitled to.

Recently, we were delighted to have been instructed in the precedent setting case of Andreewitch v Moutreuil [2020] EWCA Civ 382 in the Court of Appeal, where the Court confirmed that a Respondent in contempt proceedings should be warned about the possibility of self-incrimination before giving evidence. Should that warning not be given, then that can be enough to render the hearing ‘procedurally irregular’. In this case, that was sufficient to see a finding of contempt against our client, Mr Andreewitch, set aside. This is an important update that seeks to emphasise the core importance of the right to silence, even though proceedings are within the Civil Courts.

The case has been covered in the national press in both the Daily Mail and The Times. Additionally, I along with our instructed counsel, Christopher Sykes from Doughty Street Chambers, have co-authored a professional update which been published by LexisNexis and can be downloaded here.

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