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Committal for Contempt of Court in Open Court at the Business and Property Courts: Sones:

CLAIM NO: PT-2018-000186

In the High Court of Justice
Business and Property Courts of England and Wales
Property, Trusts and Probate List (ChD)

25 February 2020

Before:

Mr Michael Green QC,
sitting as a deputy High Court Judge

IN THE ESTATE OF AUDREY LILIAN SHERSTONE (DECEASED)

Between:

NICHOLAS ALAN VINCENT

PETER KING

-v-

GERALD HAVELOCK SONES

PETER MALCOLM SONES

CYNTHIA MONK

 


Statement in Open Court of Committal for Contempt of Court pursuant to paragraph 13 of Practice Direction: Committal for Contempt of Court – Open Court dated 26 March 2015

 

  1. On 25 February 2020, Mr Michael Green QC, sitting as a deputy High Court Judge in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, sentenced the First Defendant, MR GERALD HAVELOCK SONES, in his absence, to 3 months imprisonment for contempt of court. The sentence was suspended on condition that Mr Sones do attend a further hearing on Friday the 17th of April 2020 at 110.00am (time estimate 2 hours) before a Chancery Master and complies with the delivery up orders by the time of that hearing.
  2. The committal application arose in proceedings to do with the estate of Audrey Lilian Sherstone (deceased) in the Property, Trusts and Probate List of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales. The proceedings have claim no. PT-2018-000186.
  3. Mr Sones was acting as the Executor of the estate of the deceased and it is alleged that he misappropriated funds from the estate. The First Claimant and the three Defendants are all residuary beneficiaries of the estate. The Second Claimant is the court appointed Administrator of the estate.
  4. The Claimants alleged three contempts of court:
  • Breach of an Order of Master Price dated 26 July 2018 for the delivery up of three categories of documents in relation to funds removed from the estate;
  • Failure to attend Court on 21 October 2019 pursuant to an Order made by Deputy Master Arkush on 18 September 2019 under CPR Part 71.2;
  • Breach of a money judgment for the sum of £352,308.49 made by Deputy Master Nurse on 21 October 2019, which money judgment was directed to be made subject to a Penal Notice.

5. Mr Sones resides in Spain with his wife. The Court was satisfied that he had been served with all the Orders and that he had received notice of the committal hearing and that he had made a deliberate decision not to attend the hearing.

6. The Court found all three contempts of court to be proved to the requisite criminal standard. However in relation to the breach of the money judgment, the Court declined to make a committal order because it was not satisfied that the Claimants had proved that the breach was within the exception set out in s.4(3) of the Debtors Act 1869 and/or that it decided not to exercise its discretion in such respect (see s.1 of the Debtors Act 1878).

7. In relation to the other two contempts of court, the Court was bound by CPR Part 71.8 in respect of the failure to attend, to suspend the committal order provided that Mr Sones attends the further hearing and complies with the order.

8. Accordingly the Court imposed a sentence of imprisonment of 3 months in respect of each of the two contempts of court, the sentences to run concurrently but that each sentence is suspended on condition that:

  • Mr Sones do attend the hearing on Friday the 17th of April 2020 at 110.00am (time estimate 2 hours);
  • Mr Sones do comply with paragraph 4 of the Order of Master Price dated 26 July 2018 by the time of the said hearing;
  • Mr Sones do comply with the rest of the Order of Deputy Master Arkush dated 18 September 2019 by the time of the said hearing.

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