FORD v JIVRAJ, 2023 ABKB 331


10.53: Punishment for civil contempt of Court

Case Summary

The sentencing decision concerned the Defendant, a contemptor (the “Contemptor”) who had been found guilty of breaching an Order made in July 2020 restricting him from publishing any comments about the Plaintiff, Ms. Ford (the “Nixon Order”). The Court noted that the Contemptor sent a letter to a media outlet containing derogatory things about Ms. Ford in October 2020 (the “Letter”).

The Court noted that the applicable Rule for determining the consequences of civil Contempt is Rule 10.53 and that it had a very wide discretion in determining what is a fit and proper consequence for a contemptor. After reviewing the applicable jurisprudence, the Court noted that it would not impose a period of imprisonment on the Contemptor.

The Court noted that the Contemptor: (1) deliberately set out to circumvent the consequences of the Nixon Order; (2)  had commenced a campaign to cause harm to Ms. Ford based largely on jealously of her successful political career and his failures; (3) had made an apology to Ms. Ford, which was mitigating; (4) was in poor financial circumstances, but that the Contemptor’s claim that the underlying proceedings resulted in him being unemployable was exaggerated;  (5) was highly educated which included a law degree and he could not have been said to not understand the Nixon Order or the consequences of committing civil Contempt of Court, which had the effect of removing potential mitigating circumstances; and (6) caused no serious harm to Ms. Ford via the Letter.

The Court found that a fine of $10,000 was appropriate and noted that it would be inappropriate to send the Contemptor to jail for his first offence.

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