Page images

postcards to the plaintiff threatening an e-xposure by like means if the action is persisted in,* or to terrify a witness about to be examined on Commission','l* or for a husband by menace to prevail upon his wife to put in an answer contrary to what she believed to be the fact,1 or for the respondent to threaten one whom he knew to be a probable witness that if she gave evidence she would be indicted for perjury,§ or for the defendant to send to the plaintiff, pending the suit and enquiries before the Chief Clerk, a letter threatening indictment for swindling, perjury, and forgeryll, Or to threaten a prosecutor with danger of his life, saying that he would be hangedfll But it is not a contempt to indict a prosecutor for perjury, pending the prosecutionfil

Ifthe purpose is to intimidate, it is immaterial that the threat had not the effect desired (a).

(b). Other ways.

It is a serious contempt to tamper with a witness in an action, to induce her by an offer of money to go away and hide herself where the other party cannot find her. A person employing an agent who does such a thing, though himself innocent, should not get his costs if he is included in the motion to commit.“

* Sharland v. Sharland, 1885, 1 T.L.R. 492.

1- Partridge v. Partridge, 1640 (P), Toth. 40.

I Ex parte Halsam, 1740, 2 Atk. 5o.

§ Shaw v. Shaw, 1861, 31 L.J.M. 35, Sir C. Cresswell, J.O. The respondent had also written an abusive letter to another.witness, as to which see the argument at the bar that this was no contempt, because he did not know she was likely to be a witness. But he knew she was cognisant of important facts, and it is submitted that in such circumstances there is a contempt.

|| Smith v. Lakeman, 1856, 26 L.J. Ch. 305 (committed).

1| Rex v. Carroll, 1744, 1 Wils. 75. It might be otherwise if the indictment were under circumstances which would be ground for an action for malicious prosecution, and the real object was to interfere with the pending cause.

*"' Lewis v. .'}’ames, 1887, 3 T.L.R. 527, Kay,J.

But the meresuggestion to a material witness that he should not attend the trial, and that he should endeavour to regain from the plaintiff possession of an important letter which had been addressed to him, and the giving to him a monetary advantage as an inducement to do these things has been held not to constitute a contempt.*

To inspect the brief of the opposite party, clandestinely taken out of the custody of his attorney, is a contempt.'l'

Semble, it is a contempt to interfere with the conduct of a sale without the leave of the Court.I

(c.) Service of Process and Arrest.

No arrest on civil process is lawful in the place where the Queen’s ]udges are sitting, or within the local limits of the place where they are administering justice. It is a contempt to serve process upon a person attending the Court, or to arrest, on civil process, one attending, going to, or returning from the Court.§

§ vii. Infants and Wards.

The mere fact of an infant being plaintiff in a suit makes him or her a ward of Court, without any express order to that effect,[} and when there is a suit depending relative to an infant or his or her estate, interference with the infant,

[ocr errors]

as with a ward of Court in any case, is a contempt, which the Court has jurisdiction to punish upon the application of the guardian, though the father is alive and is guardian, or there is a testamentary guardian whose position has been established by a decree of the C0urt.*‘

So it is a contempt to encourage an infant to leave the custody of those under whose care he has been placed by the C0urt,1' or for a father to be instrumental in the abduction of his daughter, a ward of Court, contrary to the order of the Court; I or, it would seem, to have taken the body of a ward in execution upon an action at law; § or to marry a ward without the leave of the Court, whether there be disparagement in the marriage or no ; I} or to remove an infant ward out of the jurisdiction, even where he has enlisted in the army, without leave of the Court, by sending him with the regiment on foreign service.‘-T

As to a marriage without leave, a contempt is not committed by an innocent person, who has merely some hand in the actual ceremony," but is committed by any person

' Eyre v. Countess of Shaftesbury, 1722, 2 P. Wms. 102; Butler v. Freeman, 1756, Amb. 301. See also Phipps v. Anglesea, 1721, 1 P. Wms. 696. The jurisdiction as parens patriez is exercisable though the infant has no property within the jurisdiction. In re Spence, 1847, 2 Ph. 247 ; In re A. 8., an Infant, 1885, 1 T.L.R. 657, Chitty, J.; Sumner v. Kingseote, 1885, 1 T.L.R. 351, per Chitty, J.; Cutler v. Wright, W.N. 1890, p. 28,per Stirling, J.

1 - Dr. Yalden's Case cited, 1 P. Wms. 697. See Iredell v. Iredell, 1885, 1 T.L.R. 260.

I Wellesley v. Duke of Beaufort (Long Wellesley's Case), 1831, 2 Rus. and Myl. 639, Lord Brougham, L.C.

§ Bond v. Roberts, 1843, 13 Sim. 400.

I! Cases cited note (0); Richardson v. Merrifield, 1850, 4 D.G. 8: S. 161; Hill v. Turner, 1737, 1 Atk. 515 (wife committed, and suit for alimony and restitution of conjugal rights restrained).

1I Harrison v. Goodall, 1852, Ray. 310, note (a); Roehford v. Haekman, 1854, 23 L.J. Ch. 261 (discharge ordered).

'"* More v. Mare, 1741, 2 Atk. 157, Lord Hardwicke, L.C., S.C. Moor v. Moor, Barnard, 404.

who takes some part in the contrivance of the marriage, though ignorant of the fact that the party is a ward.*

Where, however, recent decisions had established that payment into Court under the Trustee Relief Act of a fund in which an infant is interested had the effect of making the infant a ward of Court, and a person, domiciled in Scotland, had married an infant, also domiciled in Scotland, but made a ward in this way, Page Wood, V.C., held that the party might well be, as he pleaded, ignorant of this law, and that he was not punishable as for contempt, though, unless the property in Court was very small, the Court ought not to part with it without a settlement.1'

Though the marriage is celebrated in a foreign country, and without the jurisdiction of the Court, and its validity is doubtful, yet the persons contriving the seducing of the ward away from this country are guilty of contempt.I

There is no contempt when the marriage takes place after the ward has attained majority, though it be but the day after,§ and the Court will not commit for an alleged breach of an order after majority, for that the order, having been

* Herbert’: Case, 1731, 3 P. Wms. 115, Jekyll, M.R. (There could be no excuse, because acts and orders of Court are public ; but see Metropolitan Music Hall v. Lake, 1889, 58 L.J. Ch. 513; 60 L.T. 749. The case was one in which an Oxford undergraduate, aged eighteen, was induced to marry a servant, and the M.R. also held that the marriage of an infant without the consent of his guardians is encouraged at the peril of those instrumental therein—parson marrying, and pretended barrister acting as guardian); Nicholson v. Squire, 1809, 16 Ves. 259, Lord Eldon, L.C. (but note this report is ex relatiane, and cf. More v. More, ubi supra); Millet v. Rowse, 1802, 7 Ves. 419, Lord Eldon, L.C.

1- Re Tweedale, 1859, Johns, 109. See further Se. C.S. & O. in Private Inter. national Law, pp. 68, 69, 422, 423.

I Ib. Butler v. Freeman, ubi supra; Bafhurst v. Murray, 1801-2, 8 Ves. 74; Kent v. Burgess, 1840, 11 Si. 361, S.C. Burgess v. Kent, 10 L.J. Cb. 100.

§ Long v. Long, 1823, 2 Si. & S. 119; Longboltom v. Pearce, 1858, 3 D.G. and J. 545 n.; Ill/hite v. Herriek, LR. 4 Ch. 345 (overruling Biddle v. .')'ackson, 1858, 26 Beav. 282, Romilly, M.R. ; S.C. Biddle: v. Yackson, 3 D.G. & J. 544, L.J.J. (disagreement—no order); Sam: v. Cronin, Ex part: Reed, 1874, 22 W.R. 204.

made till further order, and not discharged, is still, technically, in force.*

§ viii. Interference with process and execution.
(a.) Generally.

Persons engaged in serving or executing the process of the Court are not to be molested.t It is a contempt to use contumelious language on being shewn a copy of a writ,I or to assail process-servers with indecent and disrespectful language concerning the judge from whose Court the process issues,§ or to use violent and threatening language towards and forcibly detain a solicitor's clerk serving process,|'| or to set hounds upon,1l or to beat a process-server,“ or to hinder a bailiff or messenger in the execution of his warrant,tT or to assault such an one in the discharge of his duty,1I or for the captain of a ship to threaten to throw a bailiff overboard, using very contemptuous language, and so to put him out of possession,§§ or, apparently, for the governor of a gaol to refuse to allow service upon a prisoner,|i || or to impede the service of a

[ocr errors]

repealed and not re-enacted, but the principle remains. A.P. notes to Ord. xliv., r. 1.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »