Contempt of court occurs when someone disobeys a court order, shows disrespect for the judge, lies under oath or disrupts court proceedings. The
judge has the power to enforce court orders and control courtroom behaviour by issuing a contempt of court order, which can result in a fine
or jail time.
In fraud and insolvency cases, contempt commonly occurs when the defendant lies about the facts of the case or fails to obey a court order to re-pay
monies owed. Another common instance is when assets have been frozen by the court and the defendant enters into a contract of sale for assets
that have been frozen.
Compliance with court orders is critical for the continued administration of justice and to ensure public confidence in the judicial system.
There are several principles followed by the courts when an application for contempt is made. These are:
- * The order alleged to be breached must be clear and unambiguous.
- * The construction of an order is not a matter of fact but a question of law.
It is not necessary for an applicant to prove the defendant intended to disobey the order.
Deliberate conduct which is in breach of the order will constitute wilful disobedience of the order and therefore civil contempt will apply unless
the conduct was casual, accidental or unintentional.
The facts at issue in a contempt charge must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.