When a court issues a final judgment in a Connecticut business law matter, that should be the last word. Orders and other decrees are expected to be followed. For the most part, this is the case. But in some instances, parties are accused of violating the order. When this happens, an aggrieved party in litigation can file a motion for civil contempt.
What is civil contempt, and what can you expect in a contempt proceeding? Whichever side of the matter you are on, you can count on business law attorneys from Aeton Law Partners to guide you.
How civil contempt works in Connecticut
There’s a good chance that if a party violates a court order, a contempt hearing is not far off. Courts generally do not police their own orders or seek updates from parties in litigation. Therefore, if a party believes another party has violated an order, it will need to file a motion for contempt.
A motion for contempt will, in part, order the violating party to start following the terms of the order. The party requesting an order of contempt will have the burden of proving its case to the court’s satisfaction. In order to do so, that party must meet the legal standard known as clear and convincing evidence. This means, basically, that it is highly probable the underlying factual allegations occurred.
To meet this standard, the party requesting contempt must demonstrate the following:
There is a clear and unambiguous court order. Usually, this is not one of the more contentious elements of a contempt motion. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that a party would bring contempt in the first place if there were not such an order. Nonetheless, this element should never be assumed by either side.
The other party violated that order. Arguably, this is the most disputed element of a contempt motion. Answering the question of whether a party violated the order requires evidence, including possibly eyewitness testimony. To attempt to refute this claim, the party allegedly in contempt can present its own evidence.
The violation was willful. This, of course, means the violation was on purpose and not the result of an oversight. Again, this requires evidence and it will be taken on both sides at a court hearing.
How might contempt be punished?
There is a chance that even if a party is found in contempt, punishment may be temporarily withheld. The court may decide to give the violating party a chance to come in line with the contempt. Whether the judge decides to do this depends largely on the circumstances. It is unlikely, however, that a judge would repeatedly permit this if contempt continues.
Compliance with the court order is the main goal. But a judge may decide to order the violating party to pay the non-violating party’s legal fees. There is also a chance that a party might wind up in jail until it complies with the court order. Again, this depends on the specific circumstances at hand. Your attorney will discuss with you the best legal strategy and what type of relief to demand from the court.
How Aeton Law Partners Can Serve You
Business law cases are complicated enough, even without contempt issues. But when a party has alleged contempt, the matter takes on a different form. Regardless of which side you are on, having experienced legal counsel is essential. When you retain our firm, we will review the allegations (either that you’ve made or that have been made against you). Then, we will compile evidence to prove or refute each required element.
Do you have questions about contempt in business law cases? Has another party violated a court order, or have you been accused of the same? Contact us today at Aeton Law to let us represent you.