Cassady associate Brandon Hastings was featured in December 2021 by the Canadian Bar Association for his article about when civil contempt becomes criminal. The following is a preview:
There are various mechanisms available in the Rules of Court to compel compliance with court orders. But, what happens if these are ineffective? The Criminal Code delineates two types of contempt: (1) contempt “in the face of the court” (in facie) and (2) contempt not in the face of the court (ex facie). Contempt ex facie is our subject.
In addition to being codified in s. 127 of the Criminal Code, criminal contempt is also, and more expansively, a criminal offence under common law — the power to punish for civil or criminal contempt is part of the court’s “core” inherent jurisdiction. That jurisdiction was enshrined as part of the Constitution Act (by reference to the law of England), and as such it cannot be limited by legislation.1 So, despite references to contempt in the Rules of Court and the Criminal Code, those sections are not exhaustive. Judges, it would seem, can get creative, though common penalties for both civil and criminal contempt include fines and imprisonment. As you might expect, the latter comes with a criminal record, and generally more severe penalties.2
The full text of the article can be found here: https://www.cbabc.org/BarTalk/Articles/2021/December/Features/Failure-to-Obey-Court-Orders.