ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
HUDDERSFIELD DISTRICT REGISTRY
HHJ SHAUN SPENCER QC sitting as a Judge of the High Court
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE RICHARDS
LORD JUSTICE RIMER
| TARIQ ALI
|- and -
|ESURE SERVICES LIMITED
MR MARK TURNER QC and MR PAUL HIGGINS (instructed by Horwich Farrelly) for the Respondent
Hearing date: 29th November 2011
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Mummery :
"(1) Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against a person if he makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.
(2) Proceedings under this rule may be brought only –(a) by the Attorney General; or (b) with the permission of the court."
"(a) TARIQ ALI made, or caused to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth, contrary to CPR 32.14, namely a set of Particulars of Claim incorporated within a Claim Form which were issued out of the Medway County Court on the 15th April 2009 under claim number 9MC 00344. By that document TARIQ ALI asserted that (i) he had been involved in a collision that had occurred on the 23rd September 2008, (ii) the driver of the vehicle that struck the vehicle he was driving in was 'Natalie Kayne', (iii) the collision was caused by the negligence of 'Natalie Kayne', (iv) the collision was an accident properly so called and (v) he had sustained loss as a consequence of the collision. Those statements (or some of them) were false in that
i. no such collision had occurred whether as alleged or at all,
ii. 'Natalie Kayne' was a fictitious identity created solely for the purpose of claiming compensation from the Applicant,
iii. any collision was not caused by negligence-rather it was caused deliberately with intent to claim compensation from the Applicant,
iv. any such collision was not an accident properly so called; and/or
v. he had not sustained any loss as alleged.
AND accordingly TARIQ ALI is in contempt of court and liable to be subject to an order for committal."
"1.-(1) The power of the High Court or Court of Appeal to punish for contempt of court may be exercised by an order of committal.
(2) Where contempt of court-
(a) is committed in connection with-
(iii) proceedings in an inferior court; or
(b) is committed otherwise than in connection with any proceedings,
then, subject to paragraph (4), an order of committal may be made only by a Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division.
(3) Where contempt of court is committed in connection with any proceedings in the High Court, then, subject to paragraph (2), an order for committal may be made by a single judge of the Queen's Bench Division except where the proceedings were assigned or subsequently transferred to some other Division, in which case the order may be made only by a single judge of that other Division.
The reference in this paragraph to a single judge of the Queen's Bench Division shall, in relation to proceedings in any court the judge or judges of which are, when exercising the jurisdiction of the court, deemed by virtue of any enactment to constitute a court of the High Court, be construed as a reference to a judge of that court."
"…a Divisional Court has exclusive jurisdiction where the contempt is committed in connection with proceedings in a county court. If a contempt is committed in such proceedings and, subsequently, the proceedings are transferred from the county court concerned to the High Court, the question arises whether (1) it remains the position that an order for committal for that contempt may be made only to a Divisional Court, or (2) a single judge of the High Court Division to which the proceedings have been transferred may make such an order. In Brighton & Hove Bus & Coach Company Ltd v. Brooks  EWHC 806 (Admin.) …where permission to bring proceedings for contempt under CPR r32.14 (False statements) was sought, a Divisional Court held that the former answer was correct and that, in those circumstances, a single judge of the High Court has no jurisdiction."
"…the signature to the particulars of claim while obviously it can only be done once, is not a once for all act…the signature on a claim form amounts to the claimant's authentication of the case and that authentication continues until the conclusion of the case, however it concludes…it may well be that there was a contempt of court committed while the case was in the inferior court …but that contempt continued …until the conclusion of the case…"
(1) The judge was wrong to hold that the High Court has jurisdiction to proceed with the committal application.
(2) The proceedings were initiated in the County Court. It was in connection with those proceedings that the statement of truth in question was made. The later transfer of the proceedings to the High Court did not give it jurisdiction to hear the committal application for contempt, as it was based on allegedly causing a false statement of case to be made in the County Court before the case was transferred to the High Court.
(3) The County Court proceedings were discontinued. That broke the chain of causation between the statement of truth in question and the resurrected proceedings in the High Court. There were no longer any County Court proceedings with which the alleged contempt could be connected. The arrival of the proceedings in the High Court was the consequence of a procedural device used by Esure to persuade the County Court to set aside the Notice of Discontinuance and transfer the proceedings to the High Court, so that committal proceedings could be commenced before a single judge in the High Court.
(4) Esure should have made its committal application to the Divisional Court, as only that court has jurisdiction to hear it
"12. The question therefore is one of statutory interpretation; whether a contempt of court committed while proceedings are in the County Court and prior to the transfer to the High Court can be committed in connection with proceedings in such a court or in connection with proceedings in the High Court. Before us there was a large measure of agreement amongst counsel. Mr William Featherby QC , who appears on behalf of the applicant in both applications, maintains that the application must be heard by a Divisional Court. Similarly Mr Andrew Hogarth QC who appears on behalf of the respondents in the Brighton & Hove Bus case accepts that that is correct. Mr Jupp, who appears on behalf of the third respondent in the Motor Insurers Bureau case does not strongly disassociate himself from that view…
13. On the face of it, as a matter of interpretation, the answer is to my mind clear. The application is made in connection with proceedings in the County Court and the matter has to be heard by a Divisional Court…"
" 25. I consider the effect of Ord.52.1 (2) to be clear. These applications are in respect of a contempt alleged to have been committed in connection with proceedings in the High Court…"
Discussion and conclusions
" 32. …The result is indeed unfortunate. The inconvenience of a committal application having to proceed before two judges sitting in the Divisional Court rather than before a single judge of the High Court who could hear it wherever it could be sensibly heard, is self-evident. If such proceedings are going to become more common, as there is some evidence to suggest, they are likely to place a considerable and unnecessary burden on the court to the detriment of other litigants.
33. This is aggravated by the additional factors that such cases obviously require a degree of urgency and by their potential length. The present rule requiring such cases to come before the Divisional Court does not fit with the overriding objective. Like Lloyd Jones J I cannot see a way round it."
Lord Justice Richards:
Lord Justice Rimer: