Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Ex Facie Contempt Definition:

Contempt committed outside the court.

Related Terms: In Facie Contempt, Direct Contempt, Indirect Contempt, Contempt of Court, Criminal Contempt

In R v Cohn, Justice Goodman of the Ontario Court of Appeal wrote:

"Contempt offences fall within two broad categories, viz., contempt in the face of the court (contempt in facie) and contempts committed outside the court (contempt ex facie).

"A contempt in the face of the court may be broadly described as any word spoken or act done in, or in the precincts of, the court which obstructs or interferes with the due administration of justice or is calculated so to do. Forms of conduct which have been held to constitute such contempt are: assaults committed in court; insults to the court; interruption of court proceedings; and refusal on the part of a witness to be sworn or, having been sworn, refusal to answer.

"Conduct which amounts to contempt outside the court may be described in general terms as words spoken or otherwise published, or acts done, outside court which are intended or likely to interfere with or obstruct the fair administration of justice. Common examples of such contempts are: publications which are intended or likely to prejudice the fair trial or conduct of criminal or civil proceedings; publications which scandalize or otherwise lower the authority of the court; and acts which interfere with or obstruct persons having duties to discharge in a court of justice."

Jeffrey Miller writes that:

"Traditionally, contempts are clasified as either in the face of the court (in facie curiae) or not in the face of the court (ex facie curiae)."

The distinction between ex facie contempt and in facie contempt can be determinative, depending on the level of court the alleged ex facie contempt allegedly attacks.

As Justice Wallace noted in Kinar v BC:

"[O]nly superior courts have an inherent power to punish for contempt committed in the absence of the court, i.e., ex facie, and that inferior courts of record have an inherent power which is restricted to punish for contempt committed in the face of the court."

It can be a challenge to distinguish direct contempt and indirect contempt from ex facie contempt and in facie contempt.

In law, in most cases:

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