Ashley Underwood QC appeared for the Respondent in an important High Court case concerning committal applications against persons unknown.

Following a two-day hearing, the High Court dismissed the contempt application against a solicitor in MBR Acres v McGivern. The Claimants alleged that Miss McGivern breached an injunction granted on 10 November 2021 by doing acts which contemporaneously

  • brought her with the definition of persons unknown in the case,
  • made her subject to the injunction, and
  • rendered her in breach of its terms and therefore in contempt of Court.

According to the present state of the law, where an injunction order is the subject of an alternative service provision, a person will become subject of the injunction regardless of whether they actually have it brought to their attention. However, the Court of Appeal had left open the possibility that such a person could challenge any contempt application on the basis that proceeding against them would be an abuse of the process of the Court.

Miss McGivern visited a protest site subject to an injunction which contained an alternative service provision. She did so in the course of her professional duties and without notice of that injunction, and she feared that a finding of contempt would have been career-ending. She accordingly argued that the Court should dismiss the application against her either on the basis that the alternative service provision should be strictly construed and found not to have been followed, or that bringing the application was abusive. Nicklin J agreed with both propositions.

Ashley was instructed by Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Ltd for the Respondent.

You can read more about the case on:

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