It is vitally important that defiance of court orders does not go unpunished and judges have a panoply of powers to enforce compliance. In one debt recovery action, two businessmen who repeatedly disobeyed an order requiring them to give full disclosure of their assets were given a month to fall into line or go to prison.
The pair, who worked in the shipping industry, had failed to repay any part of a £1.94 million bridging loan and a default judgment for that sum and damages had been entered against them. The lender also obtained asset disclosure and worldwide asset freezing orders against them and companies they controlled.
The Court found an element of defiance in the businessmen’s blatant failure to repay the loan or engage with the proceedings. Such information as had been provided, on a drip feed basis, was woefully inadequate and vague in the extreme. There was also evidence that they were intent on dispersing their assets. The Court imposed six-month prison sentences on both businessmen after finding them in contempt. The sentences were suspended for one month in the hope that they would comply with the order, purge their contempt and avoid imprisonment.