ADM Rice Inc v Corporacion Comercializadora De Granos Basicos SA and others is an example of the increasing use of contempt in cases where defendants are totally unresponsive to disclosure obligations which are imposed ancillary to a freezing order. In a judgment which will rival this post for brevity, Mr Justice Philips imposed 18 month prison sentences on the directors and officers of the respondent.
It can be inferred from the judgment that those natural persons found to be in contempt were outside the jurisdiction. The utility of the judgment therefore remains to be seen, but it is obviously tempting to obtain contempt orders in situations where there is a complete refusal to comply by judgment debtors.
Other noteworthy features of this contempt application were:
- Freezing orders were permitted to be served on email addresses. The judge placed some reliance on evidence that these were delivered, read and in certain instances deleted. Personal service followed email service;
- The judge was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that one of the respondents was a director and an officer of the company even in circumstance where she had been removed from the register of the company as a director.
- Service of the committal proceedings was permitted by courier;
- The judge held that 18 months imprisonment was appropriate where there was a blatant blanket refusal to comply and where the respondents had turned their back on the court process; and
- An order for writ of sequestration against the company was not made because the judge was not satisfied that it would serve any purpose, but there was liberty to reapply.
ADM Rice Inc v Corporacion Comercializadora De Granos Basicos SA and others  EWHC B1 (Admlty)