Contempt of court

‘Contempt of court’ happens when someone risks unfairly influencing a court case. It may stop somebody from getting a fair trial and can affect a trial’s outcome.

Contempt of court includes:

  • disobeying or ignoring a court order
  • taking photos or shouting out in court
  • refusing to answer the court’s questions if you’re called as a witness
  • publicly commenting on a court case, for example on social media or online news articles

If you’re found to be in contempt of court, you could go to prison for up to 2 years, get a fine, or both.

Publicly commenting on a court case

You might be in contempt of court if you speak publicly or post on social media.

For example, you should not:

  • say whether you think a person is guilty or innocent
  • refer to someone’s previous convictions
  • name someone the judge has allowed to be anonymous, even if you did not know this
  • name victims, witnesses and offenders under 18
  • name sex crime victims
  • share any evidence or facts about a case that the judge has said cannot be made public

Report contempt of court

If you’ve seen something that you think risks the fairness of a future or ongoing case, you can either:

If you’re reporting something you’ve seen online, include screenshots of the posts if you have them.