The applicant applied for committal of the respondent after his alleged breach of a freezing order. The order had specified that the respondent must not remove from England any assets located there up to the value of £560,000 or dispose of or deal with assets whether they are in or outside England up to "the same value" (paragraph 4(1)). Paragraph 7(2) of the order provided that if the total unencumbered value of the respondent's English assets did not exceed £560,000, those English assets must not be removed or dealt with and "if the Respondent has other assets outside England and Wales, he may dispose of or deal with those assets outside England and Wales so long as the total unencumbered value of all his assets whether in or outside England and Wales remains above £ ".

No figure was inserted after "£" at the end of paragraph 7(2). Henderson J agreed that someone acquainted with the law and practice relating to the grant of freezing injunctions in the English High Court could be under no doubt that the intended figure was obviously £560,000. However, here, the respondent is not a UK citizen and nor is English his first language.  He was also not present at the hearing when the injunction was granted (and did not appoint English solicitors until after the alleged breaches in relation to the non-English assets). Furthermore, the precedent on which the order was based (form F1 annexed to PD25A) does not make it clear that the same amount has to  be specified throughout. For all those reasons, and undeserving though the respondent's conduct may seem, he should not find himself at risk of committal proceedings when the order was deficient in this way.

COMMENT: The judgment begs the question whether the same approach would be adopted where the respondent is a UK citizen with English as his first language. The judge did point out, however, that it would have been possible for the applicant to apply under the so-called slip rule (CPR r40.12) and he had little doubt that such an application would have been granted (as would an application to amend the freezing order under CPR r3.1(7)).