• Chapter 7: Chapter 7: Contempt

    • 87. The strict liability rule

      (1) In this Chapter "the strict liability rule" means the rule of law whereby conduct may be treated as a contempt of court as tending to interfere with the course of justice in legal proceedings regardless of intent to do so.
      (2) In this section, "appellate proceedings" means proceedings on appeal from or for the review of the decision of the Court in any proceedings.
      (3) The strict liability rule applies only in relation to publications, and for this purpose "publication" includes any photograph, video, film, speech, writing, programme or other communication in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public and "publish" shall be construed accordingly.
      (4) The strict liability rule only applies to a publication which creates a substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings in question will be seriously impeded or prejudiced.
      (5) The strict liability rule applies to a publication only if the proceedings are active at the time of the publication.
      (6) First instance and appellate proceedings are active within the meaning of subsection (5) at the times respectively prescribed by subsections (7) to (9); and in relation to proceedings in which more than one of the steps described in any of those subsections is taken, the reference in that subsection is a reference to the first of those steps.
      (7) First instance proceedings are active from the time when arrangements for the hearing are made or, if no such arrangements are previously made, from the time the hearing begins, until the proceedings are disposed of or discontinued or withdrawn; and for the purposes of this subsection any motion or application made in or for the purposes of any proceedings, and any pre-trial review, is to be treated as a distinct proceeding.
      (8) Arrangements for the hearing of proceedings to which subsection (7) applies are made within the meaning of that subsection —
      (a) in the case of proceedings in the Court of First Instance for which provision is made by court procedure rules for setting down for trial, when the case is set down;
      (b) in the case of any other proceedings, when a date for the trial or hearing is fixed.
      (9) Appellate proceedings are active from the time when they are commenced —
      (a) by application for leave to appeal or apply for review, or by notice of such an application;
      (b) by notice of appeal or of application for review;
      (c) by other originating process,
      until disposed of or abandoned, discontinued or withdrawn.

    • 88. Defence of innocent publication or distribution

      (1) A person is not in contempt of court under the strict liability rule as the publisher of any matter to which that rule applies if at the time of publication (having taken all reasonable care) he does not know and has no reason to suspect that relevant proceedings are active.
      (2) A person is not in contempt of court under the strict liability rule as the distributor of a publication containing any such matter if at the time of distribution (having taken all reasonable care) he does not know that it contains such matter and has no reason to suspect that it is likely to do so.
      (3) The burden of proof of any fact tended to establish a defence afforded by this section to any person lies upon that person.

    • 89. Contemporaneous reports of proceedings

      (1) Subject to this section a person is not in contempt of court under the strict liability rule in respect of a fair and accurate report of legal proceedings held in public, published contemporaneously and in good faith.
      (2) In any such proceedings the Court may, where it appears to be necessary for avoiding a substantial risk of prejudice to the administration of justice in those proceedings, or in any other proceedings pending or imminent, order that the publication of any report of the proceedings, or any part of the proceedings, be postponed for such period as the Court thinks necessary for that purpose.
      (3) For the purposes of subsection (1) a report of proceedings shall be treated as published contemporaneously in the case of a report of which publication is postponed pursuant to an order under subsection (2), if published as soon as practicable after that order expires.

    • 90. Discussion of public affairs

      A publication made as or as part of a discussion in good faith of public affairs or other matters of general public interest is not to be treated as a contempt of court under the strict liability rule if the risk of impediment or prejudice to particular proceedings is merely incidental to the discussion.

    • 91. Savings

      Nothing in sections 87 to 90

      (a) affects any defence available at common law to a charge of contempt of court under the strict liability rule;
      (b) implies that any publication is punishable as contempt of court under that rule which would not be so punishable apart from those provisions;
      (c) restricts liability for contempt of court in respect of conduct intended to impede or affects the administration of justice.

    • 92. Consent required for institution of proceedings

      Proceedings for a contempt of court under the strict liability rule shall not be instituted except by, or with the consent of, the Chief Justice or on the motion of the Court having jurisdiction to deal with it.

    • 93. Use of recording instruments

      (1) Subject to subsection (4) below, it is a contempt of court —
      (a) to use in Court, or bring into Court for use, any instrument for recording sound and/or images, except with the leave of the Court;
      (b) to publish a recording of proceedings made by means of any such instrument, or any recording derived directly or indirectly from it, by playing it in the hearing of the public or any section of the public, or to dispose of it or any recording so derived, with a view to such publication;
      (c) to use any such recording in contravention of any conditions of leave granted under paragraph (a).
      (2) Leave under paragraph (a) of subsection (1) may be granted or refused at the discretion of the Court, and if granted may be granted subject to such conditions as the Court thinks proper with respect to the use of any recording made pursuant to the leave and where leave has been granted the Court may at the like discretion withdraw or amend it either generally or in relation to any particular part of the proceedings.
      (3) Without affecting to any other power to deal with an act of contempt under paragraph (a) of subsection (1), the Court may order the instrument, or any recording made with it, or both, to be forfeited; and any object so forfeited shall (unless the Court otherwise determines on application by a person appearing to be the owner) be sold or otherwise disposed of in such manner as the Court may direct.
      (4) This section does not apply to the making or use of audio or video recordings for purposes of official transcripts of proceedings.

    • 94. Source of information

      No Court may require a person to disclose, nor shall any person be in contempt of court for refusing to disclose, the source of information contained in a publication for which he is responsible, unless it be established to the satisfaction of the Court that disclosure is necessary in the interests of justice or national security or for the prevention of disorder or crime.

    • 95. Publication of matters exempted from disclosure in Court

      In any case where a Court (having the power to do so) allows a name or other matter to be withheld from the public in proceedings before the Court, the Court may give such directions prohibiting the publication of that name or matter in connection with the proceedings as appear to the court to be necessary for the purpose for which it was so withheld.

    • 96. Contempt of court

      (1) The Courts have jurisdiction, on application or on their own motion, to deal with matters relating to contempt.
      (2) The Courts have jurisdiction under this section to deal with any person who —
      (a) wilfully insults the Judge or Judges, the Registrar, any witnesses before or officer of the Court or any lawyer having business in the Court, during his or their sitting or attendance in Court or in going to or returning from the Court;
      (b) wilfully interrupts the proceedings of the Court or otherwise misbehaves in Court; or
      (c) is otherwise in contempt of court.
      (3) In any such case the Court may, if it thinks fit:
      (a) impose on him a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard fine scale;
      (b) refer the matter to the Attorney General of Abu Dhabi; or
      (c) make such other order as it considers necessary to achieve the ends of justice.
      Amended on December 18, 2018

    • 97. Enforcement of fines

      Payment of a fine for contempt of court may be enforced upon the order of the Court in like manner as a judgment of the Court of First Instance for the payment of money and —

      (a) the Court shall, if the fine is not paid in full forthwith or within such time as the Court may allow, certify to the Registrar the sum payable;
      (b) the Registrar shall thereupon proceed to enforce payment of that sum as if it were due to him as a judgment debt.