Corporate governance Corporate governance is primarily the study of the power relations among a corporation's senior executives, its board of directors and those who elect them shareholders in the " general meeting " and employees. It also concerns other stakeholders, such as creditorsconsumersthe environment and the community at large. One of the main differences between different countries in the internal form of companies is between a two-tier and a one tier board.
Contempt or 'Sub-Judice' Rules What does it mean to be in contempt? Also known as the 'sub-judice' rules, contempt is a criminal offence. There are two types of contempt: Both involve interfering with legal proceedings in the UK.
There is no exhaustive list of what constitutes "legal proceedings" but it includes, for example, the main courts: Statutory contempt law bans the media from publishing or broadcasting, including on the internet, any comments or information that might seriously prejudice active legal proceedings, in particular criminal proceedings heard before juries.
The legal test In short, once legal proceedings become "active", it is a criminal offence for media organisations to broadcast material which would create "a substantial risk of serious prejudice" to the proceedings. Criminal proceedings become "active" as soon as one of the following has occurred: Civil proceedings, for example libel proceedings or proceedings for misuse of private information, become active when the hearing date for the trial is arranged and, in Scotland, when the record written case is closed.
Once a person has been acquitted or sentenced, or the proceedings come to an end in some other way, proceedings cease to be 'active' and there is much more scope for commenting on the proceedings and the convicted person and publishing material which it was not possible to disseminate before or during the trial.
In practice, once a defendant has been convicted, even if they have not been sentenced sometimes sentencing is delayedthe media treats the proceedings as no longer 'active'. This is because sentencing in the Crown Court is carried out by professional judges who the law deems will not easily be prejudiced by media reports.
Finally, note that UK contempt laws only apply to legal proceedings that are taking place in the UK. You could not, therefore, be in contempt of US legal proceedings for broadcasting prejudicial material in the UK. Who can be prejudiced?
It is not just potential jurors who might be prejudiced by what is broadcast. Witnesses may also be prejudiced by what they see or hear on television.
In addition, although professional judges are largely considered to be immune to prejudicial media reporting, some courts are presided over by lay people most Magistrates' Courtsand the law assumes that such people can be prejudiced.
Liability Liability for statutory contempt is 'strict', which means that the broadcaster's and programme-maker's knowledge or intention is irrelevant, as is the fact that no actual prejudice was caused in a particular case - the risk of prejudice is sufficient.
If contempt is committed intentionally, however, it would be punished even more severely. Common law contempt consists of any other action which is intended to interfere with the administration of justice, for example a sustained campaign by the media to influence legal proceedings.
Proceedings need not be active. Example A classic example of contempt is the publication or broadcast, once proceedings are active, of the fact that a person charged with a criminal offence has a previous criminal record.
The previous convictions of a defendant are quite often expressly withheld from the jury during the trial because they are deemed so prejudicial. Broadcasting this information, therefore, is likely to create a substantial risk that people who may later serve on the jury would be swayed in their consideration of the facts and in making their verdict.
Penalties for contempt Contempt of court is a criminal offence and carries severe penalties:Constitution of a High Level Committee to suggest measures for improved monitoring of the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility policies by the companies under Section of the Companies Act, Travers Smith is one of the UK's leading full service city law firms, with over lawyers and a wealth of experience in our areas of specialisation.
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