Justice Mostyn has imposed what is thought to be the longest immediate custodial sentence for non-disclosure in the Family Court history. In Sarah Kimura Al-Baker v Abdul Amir Al-Baker  EWHC 3229 (Fam) the husband was found to have failed to comply with disclosure orders and was sentenced to 9-months’ imprisonment for contempt. This was accompanied by a European arrest warrant to find him and bring him to the jurisdiction.
Committal for contempt - breach of a Court order - is the Family Court's toughest sanction and the threshold is very high before this will be imposed. In this case, Mostyn was 'satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that the respondent has failed to comply with the disclosure orders'. He went on to conclude that, 'not only has he refused to comply, but he has been defiant in his refusal to do so'.
This judgment shows the Court are taking a much tougher approach to enforce its orders, to punish those who do not engage in the Court process and wilfully commit non-disclosure.
The Al-Baker case highlights the increasing tough line that the courts are taking towards non-disclosure. Whilst in previous cases such as Zuk v Zuk  EWCA Civ 1871 and Ball v Shepstone  EWCC 6 (Fam) the courts had seemed reticent to impose long and immediate custodial sentences, the mood has clearly changed.In imposing a 9-month sentence, effective immediately, Mostyn J has indicated the strong approach that the court will take to those who continue to defy its orders and disengage from the court process. This follows a trend of judges imposing longer sentences on serial contemnors, signalling the Family Court's intent to enforce its orders.