Committal proceedings for contempt
Following a professional referral, the PDS received instructions to act for an adult client facing contempt of court proceedings at Swansea County Court. This followed an allegation that he had breached his civil injunction/court order. Civil contempt/breach proceedings are classed as criminal proceedings and are covered by criminal legal aid, applied for in the usual way, save for the means test.
He had previously been made the subject of a civil injunction arising out of a dispute with a neighbour. At the time the Court had been satisfied on balance that the requirements of Part 1 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 had been met and ordered that the defendant be forbidden from:
- Using, or threatening to use, violence against any other person residing or visiting the neighbour’s address
- Engaging in behaviour, and/or using words, likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any person residing or visiting the neighbour’s address.
The Court also ordered that a power of arrest be attached to the Order.
The background to this case was that the client had been arrested, taken to Swansea prison overnight and then produced before the County Court Judge. The Judge bailed him and ordered he seek representation before appearing at the next hearing, as the Judge was at least considering immediate custody.
The proceedings were conducted in open court and the breach was admitted. Vince Williams mitigated. The outcome was a conditional discharge to run concurrently with the client’s injunction. The maximum sentence can be up to two years’ custody (S.14 Contempt of Court Act 1981).