Dawn McCambley successfully defeated an application to commit to prison the directors of the Respondent company, together with two partners from the firm of Shakespeare Martineau LLP (“SM”), the solicitors for the Respondent (the “Committal Application”).
The matter was heard before Mr Justice Zacaroli, pursuant to CPR Practice Direction 51Y, by way of a recorded telephone conference in private, in order to secure the administration of justice in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of serious, unfounded allegations of contempt had been raised by the Applicant, including the following: (i) an allegation that an attendance note, prepared by SM, was false and misleading; (ii) an allegation that the content of a respondent director’s witness statement was false and misleading; (iii) an allegation that a witness statement prepared by one of the partners of SM was false and misleading. The Applicant also sought to expand the scope of his original application by joining numerous unnamed (and unidentified) funders as potential contemnors.
The type of contempt alleged was either or both of: (i) making or causing to be made a false statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth (within CPR 81.17(1)(a)); and (ii) an interference with the due administration of justice (within CPR 81.12). There were numerous procedural defects in the Committal Application, including, the failure to apply for the permission of the court to bring the proceedings, failing to commence the proceedings by a separate claim form, and failing to identify in a claim form precisely the grounds of contempt alleged.