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Tariq Ali v Esure Services Ltd [2011], EWCA Civ 1582, 19/12/11


A single judge sitting in the High Court did have jurisdiction to make a committal order for an alleged contempt of court in proceedings commenced in the county court but subsequently transferred to the High Court.

The appellant, who had been the original Claimant appealed against a decision that a single judge sitting in the High Court had jurisdiction to hear an application by the respondent Insurer for his committal for alleged contempt of court. The Insurer had filed and served a Defence alleging fraud, at which point the Claimant had filed a notice of discontinuance. The Insurer issued an application to set aside the notice of discontinuance and transfer proceedings to the High Court. The Appellant submitted that the alleged contempt was made in connection with proceedings in the county court and therefore an order of committal could only be made by a Divisional Court and a single judge of the High Court had no jurisdiction. The Court held that Order 52 r.1(3) applied to "any proceedings in the High Court" and those words were wide enough to cover proceedings that were not started in the High Court, but were transferred to it from the county court. The proceedings in the High Court were the very same proceedings t hat were in the county court. On the transfer to the High Court the proceedings "in connection with" which the alleged contempt was committed did not become a different set of proceedings separate from those that were in the county court. The decision in Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Co Ltd v Brooks (2011) EWHC 806 (Admin) that only the Divisional Court had jurisdiction where contempt was alleged in proceedings that had been transferred from the county court to the High Court was disapproved.