Secret Imprisonments and the RCJ press office
What we know (and was reported by PA) is that at a hearing which started at 9.30am in Court 35 in the RCJ Theis J committed a woman to jail.
On 2nd August Sir James Munby the President of the Family Division sent out a circular which clarified the practice directions of May and June. The circular is Here
in a PDF form, but this is what it said.
From: President of FD
Sent: 02 August 2013 11:02
To: ZZ RCJ Family High Court Judges; ZZ DFJs; ZZHMCTS Justices Clerks; Arbuthnot,
Subject: PRESIDENT'S CIRCULAR - COMMITTALS
You will recall the Guidance on Committals issued by the LCJ and me on 3 May 2013 and the
supplemental Guidance I issued on 4 June 2013. In relation to the latter may I remind you of
A question has arisen as to whether paragraph 6 of the original Guidance applies in all
committal cases or only in cases to which paragraphs 4 and 5 apply.
Paragraph 6 applies in EVERY case in which a committal order or a suspended committal
order is made, WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
Paragraph 6 thus applies whether the committal application has been heard in public or in
private and whether or not the contemnor has admitted the contempt(s).
Paragraph 6(a) makes clear that the judgments to which paragraph 6 apply "include" any
judgment given in accordance with paragraph 5 and any statement given in accordance with
paragraphs 4 and 5. But it is not limited to such judgments or statements. The word "includes"
has its ordinary meaning of "includes, but is not limited to".
The principle is very clear and MUST be rigorously followed. NO-ONE is EVER to be
committed for contempt of court by a family court or the Court of Protection (whether the
sentence is suspended or takes immediate effect) without (a) the name of the contemnor (b)
proper details of the contempt(s) and (c) the reasons for the committal being made publicly
available in a judgment published on the BAILII website.
In a case where the contemnor has admitted the contempt(s), the judgment required by
paragraph 6 may take the same kind of form as sentencing remarks in the Crown Court, so
long as (and this is VITAL) what is said in court and then put up on BAILII sets out the name
of the contemnor, proper details of the contempt(s) and the reasons for the committal.
We shall be subject to strong and entirely justifiable criticism if it emerges that anyone has
been committed since 3 May 2013 without the name of the contemnor, proper details of the
contempt(s) and the reasons for the committal appearing on BAILII. I very much hope that
there are no such cases. If there are, it is ESSENTIAL that steps are IMMEDIATELY taken to
ensure that the judgment is put up on BAILII.
In the unlikely event of there being any difficulties with BAILII the matter is to be reported to
James Munby P
The circular was issued following a comment from me to his office where a judgment had not been issued. I think the circular is very clear. However, the press office of the RCJ don't think it is clear and are saying that it is OK that someone has been imprisoned and we don't know who.
The government have a responsibility to count imprisonments so we can check they are not happening in secret. They have, however, refused.