Bank of Scotland Plc (T/A Halifax) v John Dodd (2012)
A suspended sentence of two months' imprisonment was imposed on an individual who had breached a freezing injunction by travelling outside of the jurisdiction and by failing to give up his passport.
The applicant bank (B) applied for the respondent (D) to be committed to prison for breaches of court orders.
B alleged that D and several others had fraudulently obtained mortgage advances from it. It obtained a freezing order against D, which prohibited him from leaving the jurisdiction and required him to hand any passport he had in his name to B's solicitors. Those provisions were renewed in a later order. Despite the injunction, D went to Cuba to visit his 12-year-old daughter, who was in poor health. He did so using a new passport which he had applied for and obtained during the existence of the injunction, because his older passport had gone missing. In fact, the police had taken it, along with other belongings. After D's trip to Cuba, the police returned the older passport to him. He did not hand in either of the passports until after B began the instant committal proceedings. D was bankrupt on his own petition, he lived on a work pension and suffered from depression. He admitted his breaches of the injunction and apologised to the court for them, in both an affidavit and oral evidence.
D submitted that at worst he should receive a financial penalty; custody was inappropriate in his case.
D's attitude to the court orders had been disrespectful, but his apology to the court was genuine. His breaches had caused no prejudice to B. Nevertheless, a person subject to such provisions should apply to the court to vary them if he wished to do something that would put him in breach. D did not do that; yet he had clearly intended to breach the order. He knew he was in breach when he went to Cuba. He went for good reason, which would be taken into account. However, he could have explained his situation to B's solicitors and, if necessary, to the court. It was true that he was not represented at that time, but that was no excuse. In relation to his passports, he handed over his old one only when he faced the pressure of the committal proceedings, and it was only when B's solicitors discovered that he had obtained a new one and asked him for it that he handed it over. The inevitable inference was that he had decided he would not hand it over because he might want to travel or simply wanted to have possession of it. Taking account of D's personal circumstances, including his depression, the court's disapproval of his conduct would be shown by making a custodial sentence of two months suspended for one year.
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13 Jun 2012