THE WORDS "his assets and/ or funds" in the standard form of freezing order did not cover assets and funds which belonged, or were assumed to belong, beneficially to someone other than the person restrained.
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of Charles Hadkinson against a finding that he was in contempt of court for having breached a freezing order. In the course of proceedings brought by the bank, a worldwide freezing order was made against Mr Hadkinson and companies owned by him.
The order was in the standard form prohibiting them from disposing of or dealing with or diminishing the value of any of "their assets and/or funds", whether in their own name or not and whether solely or jointly owned, up to a stated value, and in particular with a numbered bank account and any other account of any of the defendants at Chase Manhattan Private Bank, Geneva, and ordering disclosure of all of "their assets and/or funds".
The defendants were also ordered to immediately disclosure in writing "all their assets and/or funds", whether in their own name or not and whether solely or jointly owned, giving value, location and details of the assets and funds and information concerning the disposal and transfer, since a certain date, by the defendants of any and all of their assets or funds.
Mr Hadkinson applied to discharge the disclosure provisions in the orders against him. On the hearing of that application, the bank complained that Mr Hadkinson had been in contempt of the freezing order by failing to disclose bank accounts and assets, and by transferring, without the knowledge of the bank or the permission of the court, funds from an account held in his name on deposit in Jersey into an account at the same bank held in the name of his wife for his three children, and funds from a current account in his name in Jersey to a current account opened in his wife's name at the same bank. The bank had not considered it necessary to make an application for Mr Hadkinson's committal for contempt, since the court could refuse to hear an application (other than application to purge contempt) by a party who was in continuing disobedience of a court order.
Mr Hadkinson contended that the alleged breaches of the freezing order related to transfers from bank accounts which, although held in his name, were assets beneficially owned by others. …