Angry Litigant Narrowly Escapes Jail for Foul-Mouthed Abuse of Family Judge

15th December 2022 By

Judges are well aware that litigation is stressful and that those involved may become angry or frustrated – however, there is a point at which abusive behaviour crosses the line. In a case on point, a man whose foul-mouthed tirade left a family judge deeply shaken came within a whisker of being sent to prison.

During a telephone hearing, the man swore repeatedly at the judge and referred to her as ‘mate’. Despite several warnings, his angry interventions continued and he refused to listen to her. He said he was ‘not bothered’ by anything she had to say. He informed her that he was making an illegal recording of the hearing which he intended to make public. He was later summoned to appear before the High Court to answer an allegation that his behaviour amounted to contempt of court.

Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that judges perform a vitally important public duty and are sworn to preside over cases without fear or favour, affection or ill will. Although trained to show a degree of tolerance to emotional outbursts, they are entitled to conduct court hearings, and to make sometime life-changing decisions, without being subjected to abuse, either in or out of a courtroom.

By his behaviour, the man had shown himself unwilling to recognise the authority of the court. He had insulted the judge, been abusive towards her and disrupted the proceedings. She was understandably distressed and evidently concerned for the welfare of the man’s partner, who was present during the hearing and had complained that he had behaved in a similar manner towards her.

The Court found that the only appropriate punishment for such a serious contempt was a sentence of imprisonment. The man had, however, written a letter of apology to the judge, declaring himself disgusted by his own behaviour. His mental health difficulties may also have contributed to his loss of control. The Court imposed a 14-day prison sentence but suspended the term for 12 months.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Relationship Status Put Under Spotlight in Divorce Case

26th February, 2024 By

Divorce proceedings are rarely cut and dry, especially where the passage of time adds complexity to matters. This was certainly so in a recent case that required a Family Court judge to rule on the validity of a decree nisi. The case centred on the divorce proceedings of a couple in their fifties and focused on a decree nisi that had been pronounced in 2012, following an application by the husband. Now seeking to finalise the divorce with a decree absolute, the husband asserted that the decree nisi had been properly...

Will Execution – Remote Witnessing Legislation Expires

22nd February, 2024 By

A legal amendment that was made during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing the witnessing of wills to take place via videoconferencing has officially expired. As of 31 January 2024, the Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order 2020 is no longer active. It was introduced in response to the pandemic, as a means of facilitating the valid execution of wills via remote witnessing. The Order applied to wills made between 31 January 2020 and 31 January 2022, but was later extended to 31 January 2024. Section 9 of the Wills Act...

Psychotherapy Condition Leads to Contact Order Appeal

20th February, 2024 By

Wherever possible, the courts will do what they can to support contact between parents and children but, in some instances, that contact comes with conditions attached. The nature of such conditions was the cause of contention in recent appeal proceedings brought by the father of two young boys. The man appealed against a High Court order that allowed for contact periods with his children, which would progress from supervised to unsupervised and increase in length but were dependent upon him engaging in psychotherapy. This condition had been imposed following a...

Beware of Builders Offering Cut-Price Work – Court of Appeal Cautionary Tale

16th February, 2024 By

Every householder should understand the dire risks involved in opening their doors to those promising to carry out cut-price building work. A Court of Appeal decision provided distressing examples of almost the worst that can happen. A householder approaching retirement age was taken in by a workman who knocked on his door, offering to paint the front of his home for £1,000. He was introduced to another man – the offender – whom the workman described as his business partner. The pair proceeded, over a period of months, to carry...