The saga continues in the case of Kazakhstan Kagazy Plc v Zhunus, where the English High Court granted two applications for committal for contempt against Mr Arip, the judgment debtor.
In the first decision, the Court made a suspended committal order for 14 days’ imprisonment following Mr Arip’s failure to attend Court for oral examination for the following reasons:
- It was clear Mr Arip had been served with the order to attend and was aware of the hearing.
- The Court held he made a deliberate decision not to attend.
- Mr Arip’s evidence was considered in light of the trial judge’s harsh findings against his credibility. Mr Arip’s own medical evidence did not support his stated reasons for non-attendance. Nor did he respond to the issues raised in the Claimant’s evidence, or provide any update to or agree to be examined in respect of his claimed medical issues. In all, the Court held the evidence established there was some extra obstinate or obstructive dimension to the intentional breach of the order.
The second order, just over a week later, was for breach of an order for delivery up of assets (specifically wrist watches, one costing US$225,000).
The Court was easily satisfied Mr Arip had breached the order to the criminal standard and was thereby in contempt. Mr Arip was again absent, but the Court considered it was nevertheless appropriate to proceed with the application for the following reasons:
- He was served with and had notice of the hearing: he had time to prepare for the hearing and/or comply with the order, yet no explanation for his non-attendance was given. It was therefore reasonable to conclude he waived his right to participate in the hearing.
- Having dis-instructed his solicitors and his disengagement with the proceedings, an adjournment would not secure his attendance.
- In any event, there was no disadvantage with his non-attendance as his contempt was plain and undisputable. There was nothing Mr Arip could present or say to defend the application, save for complying with the order.
- An adjournment would only prejudice the Claimants in costs.
- It was just, expeditious and fair to proceed in Mr Arip’s absence.
The Court found it should proceed to sentencing immediately. Considering the flagrant breach, with no explanation, and in light of the judgment for a very significant sum which the order sought to enforce, Mr Arip was sentenced to the maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.