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12 APR 2007

CONTEMPT: Hammerton v Hammerton (No 2) [2007] EWCA Civ 465

(Court of Appeal; Lloyd and Laws LJJ; 12 April 2007)

In the first case the Court of Appeal allowed the contemnor's appeal against the sentence imposed by the judge, but the sentence had already been served in conditions applied to criminal prisoners. Four days after receipt of the Court of Appeal judgment, which was very critical of the sentencing judge, the contemnor interrupted private family proceedings being conducted by the judge who had sentenced him, and threw eggs at the judge, while shouting out passages from the Court of Appeal judgment. A different judge imposed 2 months immediate imprisonment for this second contempt.

It was obvious that the contemnor had felt an acute sense of grievance. Although it was a serious contempt, being a premeditated gross insult to the judge, disrupting and damaging the orderly process of litigation between the parties before the judge, the contemnor had been overwhelmed by frustration. Given the unusual circumstances, the court would substitute a sentence of 28 days.

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