Hart v. Hart (2018) EWHC 548 (Fam) and EWHC 549 (Fam)


  • A final order, made in 2015, required H to
    transfer the ownership of a company to W. H had given undertakings to take all necessary
    steps to ensure that W could manage the company effectively, including to provide
    W with all necessary documents and information.
  • H failed to comply with this undertaking. W
    began enforcement proceedings during which H was ordered to provide the
    documents to W on two occasions (February 2016 and July 2016). H failed to
    comply with these orders. W made an application for H’s committal.

Held, granting W’s application:

  • W had proved ‘with ease’ that H was in contempt of court regarding his
    undertaking, the order of February 2016, and the order of July 2016.
  • H’s contempt of court was ‘very serious’: it was persistent and had continued from the time of
    his undertaking to the time of the committal application. Since the committal
    application, H had only partially remedied his contempt. H had shown no remorse
    for his contempt, and had provided untruthful evidence in the course of the
  • H was motivated by a wish to demonstrate his
    resentment about the financial orders made in W's favour. Through H’s
    contemptuous actions, significant pressure and expense had been placed on W, just
    as H had intended.
  • The contempt was so serious, persistent and
    damaging that despite H’s advanced age of 83, only an immediate custodial
    sentence was appropriate. The sentence must combine punitive and coercive
    elements, set at 9 months and 5 months respectively, to result in an overall
    sentence of 14 months, 7 months of which would be served in prison.