WHAT IS CONTEMPT OF COURT?

According to Oxford English Dictionary, Contempt of Court is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice, and dignity of the court.

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

6/8/2022 0 min read

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WHAT IS CONTEMPT OF COURT?

According to Oxford English Dictionary, Contempt of Court is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice, and dignity of the court. Contempt can be defined as an inappropriate attitude that involves a disregard for the court's values.

The contempt of court is of common law origin and it is not provided for in any statute. Which means that it does not refer to any type of conduct, rather it means any conduct which interferes with the effective administration of justice. In some jurisdictions, refusing to respond to a subpoena, testify, serve on a jury, or submit specific information is deemed contempt of court.

Muhammed JSC in Omijhaye v Umoru stated that “Contempt of court is a violation of justice itself, not of the court or judge who is seeking to administer it." As a result, the Court has the inherent authority to punish for contempt. There are two forms of contempt, contempt in facie curiae that is within the face of court, (criminal contempt) or ex facie curiae, outside court premises (civil contempt).

Contempt in facie curia is a type of misbehavior in court that can include an act or remark witnessed or heard by the judge that is in complete disregard of the court's order, or conduct that interferes with the administration of justice. Because the event took place in front of the court, there is no need for proof of evidence.

Meanwhile, Contempt ex facie is disobedience and obstruction of a court's authorized directives. It can also be termed as indirect contempt because it occurs outside the court’s jurisdiction. Here, evidence of the disobedience must be presented to the court in order to prove the contempt. Failure to comply with a Court's order instructing a person to execute a specific act or refrain from a certain activity is a serious breach of the Court's jurisdiction, and contempt proceedings may be filed. Ex facie curiae contempt is a serious offense that interferes with the Court's ability to administer justice.

The procedures for the penalty for contempt are outlined under the relevant sections in the Federal and States High Court Civil Procedure Rules and Judgment (Enforcement) Rules made pursuant to Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, 2004.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

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