Home Information Cases Islamic Investment Company Of The Gulf (Bahamas Ltd) v Mehta & Ors (2010)

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Islamic Investment Company Of The Gulf (Bahamas Ltd) v Mehta & Ors (2010)

Summary

A judge had been entitled to find both that a judgment debtor was in wilful breach of a court order requiring him to disclose his means and that a significant period of committal was justified.

Facts

The appellant (M) appealed against a finding of contempt and a committal order ((2009) EWHC 2378 (Comm)) made against him. The proceedings arose from a finance agreement made between M and the respondent bank (B) under which M had guaranteed the obligations of a company that traded in diamonds. Upon default B had issued proceedings against both M and the diamond trader and had obtained summary judgment. None of the judgment debt, which stood at over $14 million, was ever paid. The finding of contempt and the committal order came about because M failed to obey an order requiring him to attend court to provide information and documentation relating to his means. M submitted, inter alia, that he was not in breach of the disclosure order because (1) it had been superseded by subsequent orders; (2) he was protected by privilege against self-incrimination.

Held

(1) M's argument was misconceived. The "subsequent orders" to which he referred had all been set aside on the basis that the court had no jurisdiction to make them. The disclosure order was valid and it was plain and unambiguous. (2) When making the committal order the judge noted that M had not at any stage advanced express privilege with regard to any documents. He found that M could not have entertained an honest belief that he had no documents that he was obliged to produce, and he concluded that in those circumstances a privilege defence could not in any event have been advanced. There was no basis for upsetting those findings. (3) In all, the judge had been entitled to regard the instant case as one in which M had metaphorically thumbed his nose at the court, and he had been entitled to find that a significant period of committal was necessary if there was to be any realistic prospect of his complying with his obligations.

Appeal dismissed

Court of Appeal
Mummery LJ, Toulson LJ, Sir Scott Baker
Judgment date
14 April 2010
References

LTL 9/7/2010 : [2010] EWCA Civ 709