CONTEMPT: Re M (Contact Order) [2005] EWCA Civ 615

11 APR 2005

(11 April 2005; Ward and Clarke LJJ; [2005] The Times 18 April, Court of Appeal) [2005] 2 FLR 1006

A suspended prison sentence could be imposed for contempt only if immediate imprisonment would have been appropriate. The court would not impose a custodial sentence merely because the contemnor would be unable to pay a fine. In the instant case, in which the contempt consisted of the father being 10 minutes late in returning the child to the mother, the sentence had been inappropriate and wrong in principle; the judge should not have asked the mother to give her views, or have discussed the possibility of imposing a prison sentence on the father. See also Re M (Contact Order) [2005] EWCA 615.

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