What is Contempt Of Court?
The dictionary definition of ‘Contempt of Court’ is – ‘the offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful of a court of law and its officers’. Any action or conduct that tends to disrespect or disregard a court is said to be in Contempt of Court. The Indian legal system lists two types of Contempt of Court.
- Civil Contempt (disobeys a court order)
- Criminal Contempt (when a person says or does anything that scandalises, prejudices, interferes or obstructs judicial proceedings and the administration of justice)
Contempt of Court can be punished with imprisonment, fine or both.
Contempt of Court affects the reputation and credibility of the law firm. It is an easily avoidable offence, but the trick is to know how.
We list 5 tips which will help you stay on the right side of the law.
1. Do What The Court Expects/Orders
The purpose of a court is to resolve disputes. It is an impartial solution provider. Orders and requirements of the court are means and ways of achieving the end result – justice. It is the bound duty of every person to respect the court and its orders. The law of contempt is conceived in public interest and wilfully disobeying a court order can earn you contempt of court. It is best to honour the orders given by the court and fulfil the expected requirements such as submitting required documents etc. within the stipulated time.
An effective Case Management Software can automate document management, creating an efficient system. It can also help you keep track of latest court orders and upload case documents through digital filing. Since the entire system is independent of the human element, the chances of mismanagement, error etc are nil.
2. Avoid Informal Agreements – Keep everything in writing
Informal agreements do not hold water in the eyes of law. Approach informal agreements with caution. It is always safer to keep everything in writing and signed by the parties entering the contract. A court cannot enforce informal agreements. Insistence to do so or failing to comply with a court order in lieu of an informal agreement can earn you contempt.
3. Seek an Adjustment Before the Contempt
Communication helps. A bonafide and unconditional apology that is made to the satisfaction of the court can discharge one of contempt proceedings. It can resolve matters more effectively than any other method.
4. Never Miss Hearings
A court is a complex ecosystem where many people and resources come together to resolve disputes. Therefore, it is not in good taste to miss hearings, and waste everybody’s valuable time. Be it a wrong entry, misplaced information, or simply absent-mindedness, human error is almost always responsible for missing hearings. With the help of a case management software, you can stay notified of upcoming hearings and listed matters. The reminders and notifications make sure that you are well informed about upcoming matters, court where the matter will be listed, room number and other useful bits of information which ensure that you are never late for any hearing.
5.Avoid Misconduct in the Court & off the court premises
Contemptuous attitude wins nothing – not cases or respect. Good behaviour is a choice. To respect others means we also respect ourselves. Be polite, courteous and well-mannered – in speech as well as actions. Respect the court, clients, colleagues and staff. Being nice costs you nothing, but will gain you everything.
Contempt of Court ensures that court orders are implemented and helps sustain the independent nature of the judiciary. It also protects the dignity of the court and fortifies public trust in the system. By being punctual, respecting the court and by being polite and courteous, you can avoid becoming a contemner. With the implementation of a case management software, you can stay informed about hearings and listed matters and ensure that there are no surprises or lapses.
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