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CA judgment handed down in complex Contempt of Court case, İşbilen v Turk

CA judgment handed down in complex Contempt of Court case, İşbilen v Turk

On 22 May 2024, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in İşbilen v Turk [2024] EWCA Civ 568 in which James Counsell KC and Helen Pugh were instructed.

James Counsell KC and Helen Pugh acted successfully for their client, Selman Turk in his appeal against the immediate custodial sentence for Contempt of Court imposed by the High Court.

In this long-running, complex civil fraud case, the defendant was found in contempt of court for breaching disclosure obligations ancillary to a proprietary injunction aimed at recovering funds allegedly misappropriated from the claimant. In a judgment dated 6 March 2024, the defendant was sentenced to 12 months’ immediate imprisonment.

Following a successful application for bail made, unusually, to the Court of Appeal, and granted by Lewison LJ, the defendant was released on bail conditions after serving 23 days’ in Pentonville Prison.

Following an expedited appeal, the Court of Appeal has upheld Mr Turk’s appeal and substituted a three-month suspended sentence to encourage compliance with those disclosure obligations in that period.

In its judgment the Court of Appeal:

  • Considers the penal notice requirements where a contemnor is subject to both individual obligations and obligations qua director under an order;
  • Provides further guidance on the test for mens rea in civil contempt cases;
  • Approves the Judge’s handling of a ‘ground rules’ hearing; and
  • Discusses the principles by which a custodial sentence may be suspended.

The Court of Appeal also refused permission to the claimant to cross-appeal, to, inter alia, increase the sentence.

  • It was reiterated that applications for permission to appeal made by a disappointed applicant were rare;
  • The Judge had already given due regard to the “overall pattern of disobedience” and the “totality” principle; and
  • There was no real prospect that findings of contempt on additional grounds would lead to an increased prison sentence.

James Counsell KC and Helen Pugh were instructed by Marc Livingston and Catriona Virden of Janes Solicitors.

The full judgment of the case can be read here.

More details on the trial can be found here.

Press Coverage

The cases has been give extensive press coverage due to its connection with various members of the Royal family. Read here for more:

Find out more

James Counsell KC

James Counsell KC is widely recognised in Contempt of Court cases and features prominently in several of the most recent cases, acting for alleged contemnors.  He also acts in  regulatory and disciplinary hearings  and Financial Services claims, both in the UK and abroad, regularly representing doctors, dentists, barristers, solicitors and those in the financial services sector in their respective disciplinary tribunals. He acts both for practitioners and also for the BSB and the SRA.  James is Head of Governance at OTC and a Head of Chambers.

To find out more about James, contact Paul Barton on +44 (0)207 427 4907, Graham Woods on +44 (0)20 7427 4902 or George Bennett on +44 (0)207 427 0807.

Helen Pugh

Helen specialises in general commercial litigation, civil fraud, contentious insolvency and company law issues, and professional negligence.

Her practice has a strong international element with expertise in jurisdictional disputes and conflict of law issues, including as they arise at an interim stage in applications for worldwide freezing orders and service out applications or on the substantive claim, and in the cross-border insolvency context.

To find out more about Helen, contact Sam Carter on +44 (0)203 989 6669 or George Bennett on +44 (0)207 427 0807.

News 24 May, 2024


James Counsell KC

Call: 1984 Silk: 2017

Helen Pugh

Call: 2008

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