Father Found in Contempt of Court Orders in E v G & Anor Case, Receives Suspended 12-Week Sentence

Citation: [2023] EWFC 73
Judgment on


The case of E v G & Anor [2023] EWFC 73 offers a wealth of legal principles, deliberated by Her Honour Judge Lloyd-Jones in the Oxford Family Court. This analysis outlines the decision delivered in private regarding an application for the committal of a father, identified as G, brought by the child’s Guardian on behalf of the child, referred to as X.

Key Facts

The application concerns the father, G, who has been found in breach of various court orders regarding contact with his child, X. Despite previous arrangements established by the court for shared child visitation and custody, the father has consistently defied these orders by attempting to see the child outside the court-sanctioned schedule and instigating contact in an unapproved manner.

The legal mechanisms at play relate to the breaches of specific court orders which carry penal notices. Such orders required G to adhere to scheduled times and conditions for contact with X. Breaches included taking X from school to acquire a passport, retaining the child beyond the agreed time, and instigating contact at locations such as Waitrose and a local festival.

Several legal principles were applied in this case:

  1. Best Interests of the Child - The overriding concern in family law is the welfare of the child, exerting significant influence over any decision taken by the court.

  2. Defiance of Court Orders - It is a contempt of court to ignore or deliberately act contrary to court orders. Such behaviour is impermissible and subjects the defendant to the possibility of a committal hearing, where incarceration is a possible outcome.

  3. Proof beyond a Reasonable Doubt - In committal proceedings, breaches must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, considering that the liberty of the subject is at stake.

  4. Right to Legal Representation and Silence - The subject in such proceedings has the right to legal representation and the right to remain silent, ensuring fair treatment under the law.

  5. Sentencing Considerations - The sentencing should reflect the severity of the breaches, persistence of disobedience, and the defendant’s attitude towards such breaches.

  6. Suspension of Sentence - While Judge Lloyd-Jones considered a custodial sentence necessary to mark the contempt of court, she also factored in the suspension of the sentence, given it was G’s first breach presented in this form.

Referred to case law, such as Re L (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 173, provides guidance on dealing with committal applications appropriately. Additionally, cases such as Borg v El-Zubaidy [2017] EWFC 48 and Emoni v Atabo [2020] EWHC 3322 (Fam), while not directly analogous, furnished commentary on the process of committal proceedings.


The court found G guilty of multiple breaches of orders concerning the custody and care of his child X. Each alleged breach, from the events on 11th July to the incident on 4th November, was proved beyond a reasonable doubt, resulting in the imposition of a 12-week custodial sentence. However, considering this as a first-time offence, the sentence was suspended for a period of one year, with the provision that any further breaches may lead to the immediate commencement of the prison term.


In the case of E v G & Anor, the court has enunciated a clear directive on the seriousness with which it views the flouting of court orders. As explicated through HHJ Lloyd-Jones’ judgment, such defiance will not be tolerated, especially when the welfare of the child is at stake. This analysis underscores the expectation of compliance with court orders and the heavy repercussions of disobedience within the family law context. Thus, the case serves as a stern reminder of the reverence the legal system holds for its own processes and the protective measures in place for children embroiled in familial disputes.