Contempt of Court Proceedings

AuthorDavid A. Potts; Erin Stoik
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Contempt of Court Proceedings
Contempt of court proceedings may arise in anti-SLAPP proceedings if a
party refuses to comply with an order of the court. While none have occurred
in anti-SLAPP motions as of the date of the publication of this text, con-
tempt proceedings arising out of breaches of orders made in cyberlibel
actions occur frequently throughout the common law world. A summary of
contempt proceedings will be of value to judges and lawyers who face this
situation in anti-SLAPP proceedings in the years to come.
The law was stated authoritatively by Cromwell J in Carey v Laiken, [2015] 2
SCR 79, 2015 SCC 17 at paras 30–37:
[30] Contempt of court “rest[s] on the power of the court to uphold its dignity
and process. . . . The rule of law is directly dependent on the ability of the
courts to enforce their process and maintain their dignity and respect”: United
Nurses of Alberta v. Alberta (Attorney General), 1992 CanLII 99 (SCC), [1992]
1 S.C.R. 901, at p. 931. It is well established that the purpose of a contempt
order is “f‌irst and foremost a declaration that a party has acted in def‌iance of
a court order”: Pro Swing Inc. v. Elta Golf Inc., 2006 SCC 52, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 612,
at para. 35, cited in Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Torroni, 2009 ONCA
85, 94 O.R. (3d) 614, at para. 20.
[31] The common law has developed to recognize two forms of contempt
of court: criminal contempt and civil contempt. The distinction, which the
parties to this appeal accept, rests on the element of public def‌iance accom-
panying criminal contempt: see, e.g., United Nurses, at p. 931; Poje v. Attorney
General for British Columbia, 1953 CanLII 34 (SCC), [1953] 1 S.C.R. 516, at p. 522.
With civil contempt, where there is no element of public def‌iance, the matter

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