Office of the Publican Guardian v Stalter

Judge: Williams J

Citation: [2018] EWCOP 27

In this case, Williams J heard two applications to commit brought by the Public Guardian in relation to breaches of two transparency orders by publishing information about P’s identity and whereabouts. The breaches were admitted but there had been failures of procedure in that one of the committal notices referred to the wrong order and, more seriously, one of the orders had not been served personally.

The court waived the defect in the committal notice and dispensed with service of the order not served on the basis that no injustice was caused as the terms of each order were similar and the respondent was aware of what was alleged against him and having been present at the hearing where the order that was not served was made, was aware of its terms and that he must obey it.

The end result was that the breaches were proved but the court decided that no order on the application was necessary because the respondent had confirmed he would thereafter obey the orders and the situation underlying the case had already caused him significant suffering.

The case contains a helpful summary of the procedural and substantive law of committal in the Court of Protection, as well as a reminder that “applications to commit individuals to prison are essentially criminal in nature,” and that “when applications are brought by public authorities […] the burden on them to ensure that procedurally those applications are sound is even more onerous than it might be in applications brought by a private individual” (paragraph 34).

CategoryCOP jurisdiction and powers - Contempt of Court, Transparency Date


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