The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, has issued “Practice Guidance on Committal for Contempt of Court – Open Court” [doc] to answer various questions on the application and interpretation of the “Practice Direction: Committal for Contempt of Court – Open Court” [pdf] issued on 26 March 2015.
The Practice Direction (“the Committal PD”) introduced strict rules designed to ensure open justice, providing that all committal hearings “shall be listed and heard in public” . We had a post summarising the Practice Direction when it was issued.
The new Practice Guidance deals with
- Press Notification – the Guidance makes it clear that the Committal PD only requires the press to be notified in two circumstances, where the hearing cannot be listed on the public list in the usual way or where the court is considering holding the committal hearing in private.
- Judgments – the Guidance notes that requirements of paragraph 13 of the Committal PD concerning the terms of a public judgment only apply where the court finds that a person has committed a contempt of court and makes either an order for committal or a suspended committal order.
- Application – the Guidance says that Committal PD does not apply to orders made on a written reference to a High Court judge or Circuit judge under the procedure set out in CPR r.71.8(1) and r.71.8(2) but does apply to applications for committal in respect of adults who are alleged to have breached injunctions under the Policing and Crime Act 2009 and the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.