Government of Sierra Leone v Edward Ormus Sharington Davenport & 6 ors (2002)
The appeal regime in s.13 Administration of Justice Act 1960 had been superceded by CPR 52.3. The natural meaning of the expression "committal order" in CPR 52.3(1)(a)(i) was an order which committed a party to prison and therefore permission to appeal was required in this case.
Claimant's ('GSL') appeal from a decision of Blackburne J by which he made no order on GSL's application for committal of the first defendant ('D') to prison save to order him to pay the costs of the application (with one minor limitation) on an indemnity basis. GSL's application to commit arose out of D's alleged failure to comply with a requirement of a world-wide freezing order that he inform GSL "at once" of all of his assets. In his judgment, Blackburne J acknowledged that D had failed to provide the required information "at once", albeit that he concluded that he had since done so, but considered that D's breach of the order, although serious, was one which would be sufficiently punished by ordering him to pay all of GSL's costs of the committal proceedings. GSL sought to appeal against: (i) the judge's conclusion that D had complied with his disclosure obligation; and (ii) the penalty imposed by the judge. A preliminary issue arose as to whether GSL required permission to appeal, which it had not sought either from the judge or from the Court of Appeal. GSL contended that it had a statutory right of appeal against an order made by a High Court judge "in the exercise of jurisdiction to punish for contempt of court" pursuant to s.13 Administration of Justice Act 1960. D contended that: (a) the position was now governed by CPR 52.3, under which permission to appeal was required save in the case of a "committal order"; and (b) Blackburne J's order was not a committal order within the meaning of CPR 52.3(1)(a)(i), and therefore permission to appeal was required.
(1) D was plainly right in his contention that permission to appeal was required. The appeal regime contained in s.13 of the 1960 Act had been superceded by CPR 52.3. The natural meaning of the expression "committal order" in CPR 52.3(1)(a)(i) was an order which committed a party to prison. Blackburne J's order clearly was not such an order, from which it followed that permission to appeal was required. (2) There was no basis upon which this court could properly grant permission to appeal. The questions of whether D had complied, albeit belatedly, with the freezing order and, if so, what punishment was appropriate for his failure to provide the required information "at once", were eminently matters for the judge. There was no basis for interfering with the conclusions reached by the judge.
Permission to appeal refused.