9 month prison sentence for non-disclosure in divorce proceedings

9 month prison sentence for non-disclosure in divorce proceedings

The High Court has imposed an immediate 9-month custodial sentence, thought to be the longest immediate period of imprisonment for non-disclosure in the family courts, on a husband who has persistently failed to comply with Court orders.

In Sarah Kimura Al-Baker v Abdul Amir Al-Baker [2015] EWHC 3229 (Fam) the parties were married for 45 years. The wife (“W”) issued divorce proceedings in the English courts in January of this year. The husband (“H”) then produced a Talaq (Islamic) divorce which he claims to have obtained in the United Arab Emirates. “W” was then granted permission to bring an application in the English courts for financial relief after an overseas divorce.

As a result of these proceedings, a number of disclosure orders were made against “H”. Disclosure orders are a copy of the evidence that the Crown have collected to prosecute during a case, it is a constitutional right to know the evidence that will be used, in this case, against the husband.  “H” failed to comply with the Orders and remained outside of the jurisdiction since proceedings began. “W” applied for him to be committed to prison for contempt of these Orders.

The Judge in this case held that he was “satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt” that the respondent has failed to comply with the disclosure orders. The Judge passed an immediate sentence of 9 months’ custody. This is believed to be the longest immediate sentence imposed by the Family Court for non-disclosure, backed by a request for a European arrest warrant which is to be coordinated with the police.

This case highlights a shift in approach as previously the Family Courts were reluctant to make any Orders for committal, giving a clear message to those who persistently breach Orders and disengage from the court process.

If you wish to speak to Jolene Hutchison surrounding any of the matters highlighted in the article, or for any other issues related to family law please contact her on jfh@blasermills.co.uk or 01494 478 603.