10.52: Declaration of civil contempt
10.53: Punishment for civil contempt of Court

Case Summary

The Defendants applied for a Declaration that the Plaintiff was in contempt of Court and an Order dismissing her Action. The basis of the Defendants’ application for civil contempt was that the Plaintiff failed to complete Questioning by the deadline set by the Court and extended by consent of the Parties. Further, it was alleged that the Plaintiff failed to comply with a Court Order directing her to produce copies of various medical records.

Shelley J. noted that Rule 10.52 provides the Court with the authority to declare a person in civil contempt of Court and that there is no “appreciable difference between the new and old Rules dealing with civil contempt, at least as it relates to the failure to obey a Court Order.” The Court also held that the purpose of civil contempt remains the same, namely “to achieve compliance with court orders and to uphold the court’s authority”.

Shelley J. stated that the requirements for a finding of civil contempt remain the same under the new and old Rules. There must be:

1.         An existing requirement of the court;

2.         Notice of the requirement to the person alleged to be in contempt; and

3.         An intentional act (or failure to act), without adequate excuse, that constitutes a breach of the requirement.

The Court must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that each of these elements has been met. Moreover, the exercise of this power remains within the Court’s discretion. Rule 10.53 sets out the penalties available if a person is found in civil contempt of Court. The penalties under Rule 10.53 are “essentially the same penalties set out in Rule 704 of the old Rules”. Shelley J. applied Rules 10.52, 10.53 and the common law in relation to former Rules 703 and 704 and held that, based on the facts before the Court, it was appropriate for the Court to exercise its power to strike the Plaintiff’s Action as against all of the Defendants.

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