The orders of the court would be meaningless without methods to ensure compliance with them. It would, however, be unrealistic to expect that even the most draconian methods can always be guaranteed to be effective.
The two kinds of enforcement with which this chapter is concerned are the enforcement of orders to do or not to do certain things; and financial orders for periodical payments, lump sums or costs. Enforcement of orders abroad was considered in Chapter 13.
In the first category are orders to answer questions put under Rule 2.63 of the Family Proceedings Rules 1991, that is to say those questions which are designed to elicit information and documents about a party’s means. The reason for an application to the district judge for the questions to be answered is a respondent’s failure to respond to those questions voluntarily. The district judge’s order will provide for a response to the questions that he or she considers should be answered with a realistic time limit. If no replies are then forthcoming or are incomplete a further order may be sought for their immediate reply, coupled, perhaps, with an application that in default of an immediate response, the other party be debarred from further defending the case. At each stage the party applying for the order will seek to recover the costs of the applications.
A penal notice may also be sought at this stage. This is a notice warning the other party that he or she may face committal to prison if the order is not obeyed. The order endorsed with this notice has to be served personally on the respondent if an application is to be made to the court to commit him or her to prison for breach of the order when 28 days have expired if the order has not been complied with.