Court of Appeal issues strong statement about skeleton arguments/considers procedural irregularities in contempt proceedings

The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal against a finding  that the appellant was guilty of contempt  of court. This was because there had been procedural irregularities, namely:

  1. The allegations of contempt were not notified to the appellant until after he had been found  guilty because the judge went beyond the allegations in the application notice
  2. It had been a serious procedural error to hold the committal application at the same time as  other issues about which the appellant had had to give evidence. He had not been told that he had  the right to remain silent (instead, he had only been told that he had the right not to incriminate  himself)
  3. The appellant had not been told of his right to legal aid

Jackson LJ then went on to comment on  skeleton arguments in appeal proceedings. He said that an appellant’s skeleton argument should be a concise, user-friendly introduction for the benefit of the three judges who  will probably have had no previous involvement with the case. He described the skeleton argument  here as “35 pages of rambling prolixity through which the reader must struggle to track down the  relevant facts, issues and arguments”. He reminded litigants that a bad skeleton argument hinders  the court.

As a result, although the appellant had won, it was held that he could not recover the costs of the  skeleton argument from the respondent.