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:
- contact the court
- email the Attorney General’s Office at Contempt.SharedMailbox@attorneygeneral.gov.uk
If you’re reporting something you’ve seen online, include screenshots of the posts if you have them.