Publication Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



The offence of scandalizing the court, a form of contempt of court, is regarded as obsolete in the United Kingdom. However, it continues to be imposed in other Commonwealth nations and remains very much alive in Singapore, having been applied in a crop of cases between 2006 and 2009. This short commentary examines one of these cases, Attorney-General v Hertzberg and others [2009] 1 Singapore Law Reports 1103, which has generated worldwide interest as it arose out of articles published in the Wall Street Journal Asia. In Hertzberg, the High Court of Singapore held that utterances by an alleged contemnor are actionable if they merely have an inherent tendency to affect the administration of justice. Drawing comparisons from other common law jurisdictions, it is contended that this traditional conception of the offence held by the court is inconsistent with the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression, properly understood. The offence should therefore be fine-tuned by applying a more stringent standard for liability.


Constitutional law, contempt of court, freedom of speech and expression, scandalizing the court


Asian Studies | Constitutional Law

Research Areas

Law, Society and Governance


International Association of Law Schools (IALS) Conference on Constitutional Law, Washington DC, 11-12 September 2009

City or Country

Washington DC

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.