Committal for Contempt of Court: Mace

Business and Property CourtsCivilHigh CourtCommittal for Contempt of Court

High Court of Justice
Business and Property Courts in Wales

27 January 2023

His Honour Judge Keyser KC

Susan Margaret Mace

Committal for Contempt of Court

Susan Margaret Mace

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

In relation to claim no. BL-2019-CDF-000020, on 27 January 2023, at the High Court of Justice sitting in the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre, His Honour Judge Keyser K.C. (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) sentenced Susan Margaret Mace (“Mrs Mace”) to a custodial sentence of 5 months for contempt of court.

The background was as follows. By an order dated 11 May 2020 judgment was given in favour of TWK Thomas & Sons Limited (“the Company”) against Mrs Mace for £312,658.44 together with costs.
Mrs Mace attended at court for questioning in relation to the judgment debt on three occasions: on 21 May 2021 before a Court Officer (“the first examination”); on 28 June 2022 before District Judge Pratt (“the second examination”); and on 27 July 2022, again before District Judge Pratt (“the third examination”). Mrs Mace was also subject to certain orders made by the court for disclosure of documents in the course of the proceedings for enforcement of the judgment debt.
The basis of the sentence was that Mrs Mace gave false answers on oath in the course of the examinations in relation to the judgment debt and failed to comply with the orders that were made in the enforcement proceedings.

  1. In the first examination, Mrs Mace gave answers on oath that were recorded by the Court Officer on the EX140 form, as confirmed by her signature. The answers were false in the following respects:
    1.1 She said that she had paid £200,000 by way of loan to an unidentified foreign man. That was untrue: she subsequently admitted that she had stored £320,000 in banknotes in a safety deposit box and that these moneys had been removed by her son.
    1.2 In listing her assets, she did not disclose the existence of the safety deposit box or the £320,000.
    1.3 She said that she was “retired”, whereas in fact she was working as a Night Care Assistant.
    1.4 She disclosed the existence of one Halifax account but did not disclose the existence of two further Halifax accounts.
    1.5 In answer to the question whether anyone owed her money, she mentioned only the loan of £200,000 to the unidentified foreign man (which was untrue: see above) but did not disclose that she had lent money to family members as follows (and thereby impliedly denied the existence of such debts):
    a) £70,500 to her son between 6 March 2018 and 9 July 2019;
    b) Further moneys totalling approximately £40,000 to her son;
    c) £16,000 to Michael Davies (much of which had been repaid);
    d) Unspecified moneys to Sarah Mace and Rebecca Mace.
  2. The answers given by Mrs Mace to District Judge Pratt at the second examination were false, in that she did not disclose (and thereby impliedly denied the existence of) the debts referred to at 1.5 above.
  3. By order made on 4 May 2022 (sealed on 19 May 2022), Mrs Mace was ordered to produce at court on 28 June 2022 (that is, at the second examination) all the documents in her control which related to her means of paying the judgment debt, including any bank statements, building society books, mortgage statements and pay slips. The order contained a warning to Mrs Mace that, if she did not obey the order, she might be sent to prison for contempt of court. In breach of that order, Mrs Mace did not produce at court on 28 June 2022:
    a) The bank statements for three Halifax accounts;
    b) Documents relating to her mortgage account;
    c) Pay slips;
    d) Documentation in respect of the safety deposit box.

A sentence of 3 months’ imprisonment was imposed in respect of each of the five matters at item 1 above, to run concurrently. A sentence of 2 months’ imprisonment was imposed in respect of each of the two matters at items 2 and 3 above, to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the sentence of 3 months’ imprisonment.

27 January 2023