Yesterday saw businessman Paul MacKenzie sentenced to 10 months imprisonment after he repeatedly breached an interdict against him.
An interdict, the Scottish equivalent to an injunction in England, is a court order which prohibits a person from acting in a specific way in breach of another's legal rights. If an interdict is breached, possible punishments imposed by the court include a fine or imprisonment.
Mr MacKenzie previously owned a debt recovery business, MacKenzie Hall Holdings, but sold it to an American firm for a reported £33.5m. As part of the sale agreement Mr McKenzie agreed not to compete with his old business. After he broke the terms of the agreement by working for a rival company, an interdict was obtained from court ordering him to stop working for the rival. However Mr MacKenzie frequently ignored the court order and even divulged confidential information about his old business on one occasion. He admitted the breaches of interdict in 2012.
Sentencing Mr MacKenzie in the Court of Session yesterday, Lord Doherty stated that the breaches of interdict "demonstrated a wilful defiance of the court’s orders and a disregard for the consequences which [his] conduct would be likely to have..." Lord Doherty also said that Mr MacKenzie's breach of the interdict "was both wilful and of a repeated nature". Despite his previous good character, Lord Doherty felt that he had no option but to impose a custodial sentence, stating: “I am clear that only a prison sentence would adequately mark the gravity and circumstances of the breaches."
Mr MacKenzie's lengthy sentence not only serves as a warning of the severe consequences of breaching such an order, but also highlights how useful the remedy of interdict can be for those who want to protect their legal rights.