On the 6 April 2020, the Honourable Mr Justice Chamberlain, handed down judgment in the case of Chelsea Football Club Ltd v Gary Nichols  EWHC 827 (QB), the judgment is below. This provided an update on the considerations to be applied when considering whether to purge an individual's contempt, in light of the current Covid 19 outbreak, and the announcement of the Minister of Justice, on the 4 April 2020 that there was an intention to release a large number of individuals who were currently in prison and were deemed low risk.
The Court had considered a similar issue on the 3 April 2020 LAKATAMIA SHIPPING COMPANY LIMITED v Nobu SU  EWHC 806 (Comm), and found that the Contemptor should not be released from prison.
In the Nichols case it was determined that there were a number of factors that were different in the case. Mr Nichols established that the terms of his imprisonment had changed significantly since the 25 February 2020, when he was held in contempt, and that the Court of Appeal on the 27 March 2020, had not reviewed the sentence in light of the change of the conditions within the prison estate. There had been a number of changes, not least that Mr Nichols had a number of conditions listed within The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, specifically Schedule 1. Further the conditions within the prison were significantly different and more onerous than when he had been sentenced, in terms of the lack of visitation that had been achieved prior to the cancellation of all visitation to any prison.
As such applying the test in Swindon Borough Council v Webb (trading as Protective Coatings)  EWCA Civ 152,  1 WLR 3301, it was determined that Mr Nichols should be released forthwith.
Adam is a solicitor advocate, and regularly appears in the High Court and Court of Appeal dealing with some of the most complex and interesting public law cases.