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Court of Appeal allows aspect of appeal in committal for contempt of court case

Court of Appeal allows aspect of appeal in committal for contempt of court case

Isaac Smith v Network Holmes Ltd [2022] EWCA Civ 1631

The Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Stuart Smith, Lord Justice Birss and Lord Justice Edis) gave guidance when considering the correctness of a decision to commit the Appellant to prison for contempt of Court.

The Appellant, Isaac Smith, is physically disabled. The Equality Act 2010 Considerations & Proportionality Assessment Form dated June 2021 noted that he spent most of his time in the living room due to his disability and played music to manage the quality of his life. Following complaints from neighbours, including an allegation of a threat of violence, the Court granted an injunction to his landlord, Network Homes Ltd, pursuant to the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. Network Homes Ltd sought an order for committal based on various alleged breaches of the injunction. The Deputy District Judge found 9 of the 10 breaches of the injunction proved and sentenced the Appellant to a 12-week custodial sentence suspended for a period of 12 months.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal on this aspect of the appeal by reducing the sentence to a one-month custodial sentence suspended for the same period. The Court of Appeal proceeded to provide the following guidance:

  1. The principle of open justice serves to emphasise that judgments involving committal for contempt of Court must be transcribed and published. The judge giving the judgment also bears responsibility to ensure that the Court staff are aware of the judgment after it is published, so that they can take the appropriate steps. A failure in the audio system is not a good reason for at least publishing a note of the sentence. The Court held that there was a serious irregularity in that the Deputy District Judge’s judgment had not been transcribed and placed on the judiciary website at the proper time, contrary to CPR r81.8(8).  However, the Court held that this was not sufficient to allow the appeal. 
  2. In the absence of a possession claim under Part 55 (it being accepted that there was no possession proceedings before the Deputy District Judge), the contempt jurisdiction did not entail consideration of a mandatory ground for possession under s.84A of the Housing Act 1985 as an alternative to committal. An order for possession is not another penalty (along with a custodial sentence or a fine) which the Court can consider in the context of sentencing for contempt on an application for committal under Part 81. It is a remedy available under the Housing Act. Given that there was no application for possession before the Deputy District Judge, he could not be faulted for not taking it into account.
  3. There was no dispute that under s.16 of LASPO 2012, the Court of Appeal, as the relevant authority, can make a representation order covering the appeal: Devon County Council v Kirk [2017] 4 WLR 36 at paragraph 52 and Re O (Committal): Legal Representation 2019] 4 WLR 140 at para 2 and 4. 

Arfan Khan appeared for Mr Isaac Smith and did not appear below.

The full judgment can be found here.

Arfan Khan

Call 2001

Arfan Khan




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