1902 Encyclopedia > Attachment


ATTACHMENT, in English Law, is a process from a court of record, awarded by the justices at their discretion, on a bare suggestion, or on their own knowledge, and is properly grantable in cases of contempt. It differs from arrest, in that he who arrests a man carries him to a person of higher power to be forthwith disposed of ; but he that attaches keeps the party attached, and presents him in court at the day assigned, as appears by the words of the writ. Another difference is, that arrest is only upon the body of a man, whereas an attachment is often upon his goods. It is distinguished from distress in not extending to lands, as the latter does ; nor does a distress touch the body, as an attachment does. Every court of record has power to fine and imprison for contempt of its authority. Attachment being merely a process to bring the defendant before the court, is not necessary in cases of contempt in the presence of the court itself. Attachment will be granted against peers and members of Parliament, only for such gross contempts as rescues, disobedience to the Queen's writs, and the like. Attachment will not lie against a corporation. The County Courts in this respect are regu-lated by the 9 and 10 Vict. c. 95, § 113, and the 12 and 13 Vict. c. 101, § 2. They can only punish for contempts committed in presence of the court. (See CONTEMPT OF COURT.) Attachments are granted on a rule in the first instance to show cause, which must be personally served before it can be made absolute, except for non-payment of costs on a master's allocatur, and against a sheriff for not obeying a rule to return a writ or to bring in the body. The offender is then arrested, and when committed will be compelled to answer interrogatories, exhibited against him by the party at whose instance the proceedings have been had ; and the examination when taken is referred to the master, who reports thereon, and on the contempt being reported, the court gives judgment according to its dis-cretion, in the same manner as upon a conviction for a misdemeanour at common law. Sir W. Blackstone observes that " this method of making the defendant answer upon oath to a criminal charge is not agreeable to the genius of the common law in any other instance," and it may be added that the elasticity of the legal definitions of contempt of court, especially with respect to com-ments on judicial proceedings, is the subject of much com-plaint.

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