Chapter 3
Contempt in the face of the court

Introduction

3.1“Contempt in the face of the court” generally refers to a court’s powers to deal with a person who is disrupting the court while it is sitting.

3.2This contempt is currently provided for in a number of statutes.49 As an example, section 56C of the Judicature Act 1908 provides:
56C Contempt of court
(1) If any person—
(a) assaults, threatens, intimidates, or wilfully insults a Judge, or any Registrar, or any officer of the court, or any juror, or any witness, during his sitting or attendance in court, or in going to or returning from the court; or
(b) wilfully interrupts or obstructs the proceedings of the court or otherwise misbehaves in court; or
(c) wilfully and without lawful excuse disobeys any order or direction of the court in the course of the hearing of any proceedings—
any constable or officer of the court, with or without the assistance of any other person, may, by order of the Judge, take the offender into custody and detain him until the rising of the court.
(2) In any such case as aforesaid, the Judge, if he thinks fit, may sentence the offender to imprisonment for any period not exceeding 3 months, or sentence him to pay a fine not exceeding $1,000 for every such offence; and in default of payment of any such fine may direct that the offender be imprisoned for any period not exceeding 3 months, unless the fine is sooner paid.
49See for example District Courts Act 1947, s 112; Judicature Act 1908, s 56C; and Supreme Court Act 2003, s 35.