Saturday, June 24, 2017

New Zealand Law Commission Final Report on Contempt of Court

The New Zealand Law Commission has published its final report on the laws of contempt of court.

The Commission writes that there is a great lack of certainty about contempt of court because the law in this area has evolved in a piecemeal fashion and many principles pre-date the digital age.

The Commission recommends a new statute, The Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Act, which will replace old judge-made law.

In particular, the Commission recommends:
  • Clearer statutory rules governing the publishing of information on an arrested person’s previous convictions and concurrent charges
  • New statutory powers allowing the courts to make temporary suppression orders postponing publication of information that poses a real risk of prejudice to an arrested person’s fair trial.
  • A new statutory offence to replace the common law contempt of publishing information where there is a real risk that the publication could prejudice a fair trial.
  • A new standardized procedure for dealing with disruptive behaviour in the courts that interrupts proceedings and interferes with a court’s ability to determine the proceedings effectively and efficiently.
  • A new offence to replace common law contempt where a member of a jury investigates or researches information which he or she knows is relevant to the case.
  • The antiquated contempt of scandalizing the court should be abolished.
  • A new offence of publishing untrue allegations or accusations against the judiciary when there is a real risk that the publication could undermine public confidence in the independence, integrity or impartiality of the judiciary or courts.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:16 pm


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