Contempt of Court in the Supreme Court
Contempt of Court
Self-represented litigants may feel empowered to conduct their cases in ways which they believe justifies their case and cause. While self-representation can be beneficial for a learned litigant, there are fundamental principles in the court room that must be followed by all parties.
One fundamental principle of the court room is the rule of law. Contempt of court is related to the principle of the rule of law due to the fact that orders made in court must be given due attention and adherence. The authority and integrity of the court are also vital principles that ensure that the court of law is a place in which the public attributes integrity and justice.
What is Contempt of Court?
Contempt of court occurs when a litigant ignores a court order. Section 9 of the Canadian Criminal Code addresses this common law offence.
Under section 9 of the Canadian Criminal Code, a judge has the authority and jurisdiction to impose punishment when it occurs.
The milestone case regarding contempt of court is R. v. Vermette. In R. v. Vermette, it was noted that contempt of court is part of the inherent and essential prevue of a court. Most notably, this action by the court is used to ensure orderly conduct of the court’s business and to prevent interference with the court’s proceedings
What does Contempt of Court look like?
Contempt of court can take on many different forms.
One form is disruption of a trial and its process. A litigant can disrupt a trial by refusing to answer a question or refusing to testify, throwing objects in court and improper activity in a public gallery. Improper activity is a broad term that encompasses anything that can be seen as interrupting the court process.
Other forms of contempt can include failing to attend court when scheduled (there are exceptions), refusing to abide by directions given by the court and urging supporters to physically attack or accost a sitting sheriff.
What does the Court do when someone is in contempt?
In extreme cases, the court may use imprisonment, if necessary. Imprisonment may be used if the court finds that the litigant must be imprisoned in order to avoid prejudice in ongoing proceedings. In other instances, a court can find a litigant in contempt of court if that litigant ignores a publication ban. Additionally, a court may impose a fine.
If you are a self-represented litigant requiring information on how to prepare yourself for court, get in touch with one of our litigators today. Call us today at 604-930-9578 or 1-800-930-9986.