Recap Law Notes – Contempt of Court

Contempt is:

  • ¬†when publication creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to proceedings and proceedings are active
  • you are not allowed to report a person’s previous convictions
  • you are in contempt if you publish material that might prejudice a fair trial which might sway a juror’s mind
  • you are in contempt if you breach a court order such as a Section 39 order on a child.
  • It is contempt of ¬†court to take pictures inside a court room or tape record proceedings
  • you are in contempt if you identify a juror
  • it is contempt of court to pay a witness for stories who are due to appear in an up and coming trial
  • Contempt begins when proceedings start when a person is arrested, a warrant is issues, a summons is issued, a person is charged
  • Contempt ends when: a person is released without charge, no arrest has been made within 12 months of a warrant being issued, the case is discounted, the defendant is acquitted of sentenced, the defendant was found fit to be tried, the court has ordered the charge to lie on file
  • the term ‘substantial risk’ allows us to publish facts a distance before the trial because it is likely the jury will forget what they have heard
  • when a person has pleaded guilty or being convicted you can safely publish facts about them, even though proceedings are still active, because you cann’t influence a judge
  • Under section Three of the Contempt of Court Act the media is given protection for breaching the act if they did not know proceedings were active and had taken all reasonable precautions before going to print
  • If the police appeal for information to catch an offender
  • Common Law contempt is publishing material which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to proceedings which are imminent or pending with the administration of justice. You would breach it by being reckless, by publishing an interview with a witness during a trail.
  • Strict Liability contempt is simply publishing material which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice to active proceedings. The court decides if the publication has created the risk regardless of the writer’s motives