Sam Phillips remotely obtains contempt order in the Chancery Division in the High Court during COVID pandemic

19th May 2020

In Frejek v Frejeck & Foote [2020] EWHC 1181 (Ch); [2020] 5 WLUK 157, at a hearing held via Skype before Mr Justice Roth, Sam Phillips of Five Paper’s Property Division successfully argued for findings of contempt of court against the former executor of a will for failure to comply with an order made in the Chancery Division.

The Court was persuaded to take the unusual course of making findings of fact in the absence of the Respondent, applying Sanchez v Oboz [2015] EWHC 225 (Fam), having waived a number of formality requirements (including the requirement for personal service) at a previous hearing at which Sam had also represented the Applicant.

Roth, J accepted that the prejudice being suffered by the Deceased’s Estate outweighed ┬áthe prejudice that would be felt by Respondent, particularly in circumstances where the latter party had been afforded ample opportunity to comply with the order in question and to either purge his contempt or put his case before the Court.

The Judge made findings of breach on all four pleaded grounds and issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the Respondent by the Tipstaff pending consideration of the sanction to be imposed.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.