Friday, December 16, 2016

Civil Contempt

Greenberg v. Nowack, 2016 ONCA 949:


[25]        The test for civil contempt was articulated by the Supreme Court in Carey v. Laiken, 2015 SCC 17, [2015] 2 S.C.R. 79, at paras. 33-35:

1.    The order alleged to have been breached must state clearly and unequivocally what should and should not be done;

2.    The party alleged to have breached the order must have had actual knowledge of it; and

3.    The party allegedly in breach must have intentionally done the act that the order prohibits or intentionally failed to do the act the order compels.

[26]        Each element of civil contempt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt: Carey v. Laiken, at para. 32. A judge has discretion to decline to make a contempt finding where the three-part test has been met where it would be unjust to do so, such as where the alleged contemnor has acted in good faith to take reasonable steps to comply with the relevant court order: Carey v. Laiken, at para. 37.

[27]        In this case, at para. 48 of his reasons, the motion judge described the three-part as follows: first, whether the order clearly and unequivocally states what should and should not be done; second, whether the alleged contemnor disobeyed the order deliberately and wilfully; and third, whether the contempt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is inconsistent with how the test is described in Carey v. Laiken. The question is not whether the alleged contemnor wilfully and deliberately disobeyed the relevant order. Rather, what is required is an intentional act or omission that breaches the order. "The required intention relates to the act itself, not to the disobedience; in other words, the intention to disobey, in the sense of desiring or knowingly choosing to disobey the order, is not an essential element of civil contempt": Robert J. Sharpe, Injunctions and Specific Performance, loose-leaf, 4th ed. (Toronto: Canada Law Book, 2015), at para. 6.190 (citations omitted). Requiring the alleged contemnor to have intentionally disobeyed a court order would result in too high a threshold: Carey v. Laiken, at para. 38.




No comments: