Directors: Contempt of Court

Director in contempt of court for failing to comply with injunction

A recent High Court decision highlights the potential penal consequences for company directors of failing to comply with an injunction. The court held that two companies (and a director of both companies) were in contempt of court for failing to comply with an injunction that required the companies to remove an estimated 3000 cigarette bins containing advertisements for the companies that had been erected without advertisement consent.

The injunction had been sought by a council following the companies' failure to take any action to remove the advertisements, despite being found guilty of an offence in earlier criminal proceedings for displaying the advertisements without the council's express consent. Although the judgment does not indicate the penalties ordered in this case, it is understood that both companies and the director were fined and the director avoided a prison sentence.

What is an injunction?

An injunction is an order of the court that:

• Requires a party to do something (known as a mandatory injunction).

• Requires a party to stop doing something (known as a prohibitory injunction).

What is contempt of court?

An individual will be in contempt of court if they interfere with the administration of justice. Deliberately breaching a court order may be in contempt of court. Sanctions for contempt of court include:

• Imprisonment.

• Fines.

• Seizure of assets.

Establishing that someone is in contempt of court

To establish that someone is in contempt of court, it is necessary to prove that he:

• Knew of the terms of the court order.

• Acted (or failed to act) in a manner that involved a breach of the court order.

• Knew of the facts which made his conduct a breach of the court order.

If you have any queries about the content of this article, please contact our Dispute Resolution Team.

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