Committal for Contempt of Court in Open Court at the County Court sitting at Guildford: wright

|Contempt of Court

In the County Court of Guildford

Claim No: B00SM012

Between:

Carcash Point Ltd – Claimant

and

Mr Roy Wright – Defendant

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MINUTE OF ORDER

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BEFORE HER HONOUR JUDGE RAESIDE sitting at the County Court at Guildford on 18th May 2016

UPON hearing Ms Roberts, Counsel for the Claimant and the Defendant in person

AND UPON the Defendant’s application for an adjournment to seek legal advice being refused

AND UPON the court accepting the Defendant’s medical evidence as to why he was not in attendance at the hearing on 10th May 2016;

AND UPON the court hearing the Application for committal for contempt;

AND UPON the Defendant declining to give evidence on the application for committal for contempt but the Court hearing from the Defendant on sentence;

AND UPON the Court adopting the reasons given in the judgment of 10th May 2016 for waiving any procedural irregularities in relation to the application for contempt;

AND UPON the court recording that the Defendant is liable to the Claimant for the following sums:

  • Judgment for £9,526.90 ordered on 1st May 2015;
  • Costs of £540 ordered on 1st May 2015;
  • Costs to be assessed if not agreed ordered on 30th May 2015;
  • Costs of £1,407.92 ordered on 19th November 2015;
  • Costs of £1,043.76 and £1,893.44 ordered on 10th May 2015; and
  • Costs of today’s hearing in the sum of £1,006.80

IT IS ORDERED THAT:

  1. Paragraphs 1 & 2 of the order of 10th May 2016 are set aside;
  2. The Court finding the contempt proved, the Defendant shall be committed to prison for a period of 3 (three) months for contempt of court.
  3. The Court provided that the above sentence shall be suspended on terms that the Defendant pays the Clamant the sum of £12,000 by 4pm on 18th November 2016 in full and final satisfaction of the claim (including interest and costs).
  4. If the Defendant fails to comply with para 2 above, a warrant for the Defendant’s arrest may be issued from 19th November 2016 by application to the Judge (HH Judge Raeside if available) with a copy to the Defendant. If the Warrant is issued, then the Defendant shall be committed to prison for contempt for a period of 3 (three) months without further recourse to the Court and the Claimant shall be entitled to pursue the Defendant for the sums set out at (a)-(f) in the recital of this order plus additional interest and costs which may have been incurred.

Judgment

On 10th May 2016 I gave a judgment in this matter. The Defendant, Mr Roy Wright, was not present and had given no explanation for his non attendance. I considered the issue of some procedural defects in the form of the application, but waived these under CPR 81PD 16.2, ruling that there was no injustice to the Defendant in regard to those defects. My ruling on those matters stands.

However, Mr Wright has now produced evidence to show that on the 10th May he was admitted to hospital with severe chest pains, he was non-responsive and was clearly unwell. For those reasons I have decided to set aside the Order made on 10th May 2016 which sentenced Mr Wright to 6 months imprisonment with immediate affect.

I have therefore considered the matter afresh. Mr Wright has asked me for a further adjournment in order that he may obtain legal representation. He has told me, and I recognize, that it is difficult to obtain legal aid or obtain representation for quasi-criminal proceedings in the county court.

This application is opposed by the Claimant’s counsel who points out the length of time that the Defendant has had in order to obtain legal representation, most recently in my Order of January 2016.

I have therefore refused the adjournment.

I note that the debt owing in this case is now £9,526.90 plus costs of nearly £5,000 (including today’s costs).

I have considered the affidavit evidence of Ashley Ellis dated 20/10/15. The situation was confirmed in a witness statement of Katherine Clark dated 16/3/16 which simply confirmed the ongoing breach. Mr Wright was personally served with the notice of hearing on 10th May. In respect of today’s hearing, he was informed of this date when he appeared in front of HH Judge Nathan on 12th May 2016.

Mr Wright has chosen not to give evidence which is his right.

The Claimant must prove the contempt beyond reasonable doubt. I am satisfied that the contempt is clearly proved to that standard: in clear breach of the Order dated 5/1/2016 the Defendant has failed to deliver up the relevant vehicle to the Claimant, nor given the Claimant details of where the vehicle is located.

In mitigation, Mr Wright repeated his desire to set aside the original order: I have explained that I have no power to do that, HH Judge Nathan having already refused that application.

Mr Wright also explained (in papers which I have seen) about his own disability, his extensive charity work, and the current illness of his partner.

The Claimant has offered to accept the sum of £12,000 in full and final settlement of all debt, interest and costs, provided it is paid within 6 months. The Claimant asks that the Court should suspend the Order on these terms.

The breach of the Order is deliberate and flagrant. I have explained to the Defendant (as have other judges) that he has been found liable to pay these sums and he has to hand over the vehicle. He refuses to do so.

I am hoping that the Defendant will take some legal advice, and I have made some suggestions as to where he may be able to access free representation.

I consider that the appropriate sentence for this breach is for the Defendant to be imprisoned for the period of 3 months; however, I shall suspend this for the period of 6 months in order to give the Defendant the opportunity to pay off the debt by selling the vehicle privately.

HH Judge Raeside
18th May 2016