Social media-related undertakings and orders in family proceedings

Over recent years it has become more common for the Court to specifically order parties to family proceedings not to publicise their cases or perhaps contact one another on the internet.  

The Court can accept an undertaking from the parties in such terms.  In the past, separating parents or couples might denigrate each other in front of their associates but this would leave no evidence and often be impossible or very difficult to prove.  If one party makes such comments on social media, it will usually get back to the other party and produce clear evidence of breach of an order or undertaking, which can easily be produced before the Court.

It is worth bearing in mind that breach of an order or undertaking is considered by the Court to be a very serious matter.  Indeed, given the high standard of proof of which the Court must be satisfied in considering whether a breach has occurred, if found to have occurred, the breach is likely to lead to a custodial sentence.

An undertaking is a formal promise given voluntarily by a party to the Court.   Even a minor or perhaps frivolous breach of an undertaking can lead to what might therefore appear to be a disproportionate response on the part of the Court.  This is because the Court is not responding to the harm done by the breach of the order undertaking but the fact of the contempt of Court.  The objective of contempt proceedings is to uphold the authority of the Court by demonstrating that its orders may not be flouted with impunity.

For further information and advice, please contact our Family team – family@blasermills.co.uk