Contents

Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Bill and commentary

Part 1 – Preliminary provisions

Clause 3 – Purposes and objectives

3 Purposes and objectives

(1) The principal purposes of this Act are to—

(a) promote and facilitate the administration of justice and uphold the rule of law; and

(b) maintain public confidence in the judicial system; and

(c) reform the law of contempt of court.

(2) To those ends, this Act enables courts to make certain orders and impose certain sanctions in order to achieve the following objectives:

(a) civil and criminal court proceedings are heard and determined fairly by independent and impartial Judges:

(b) jury verdicts are based only on facts admitted or proved by properly adduced evidence after free, frank, and confidential jury discussions, and the finality of verdicts will be protected:

(c) individual cases are heard and determined in a manner that is expeditious, efficient, and consistent with the principles of justice:

(d) except in unusual circumstances, proceedings will be open to the public and news media:

(e) the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary will be protected.

(3) In reforming the law of contempt of court in New Zealand, this Act abolishes the common law contempts of contempt in the face of the court, publishing information that interferes with a fair trial, contempt by jurors, disobeying court orders, and scandalising the court, while preserving the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to punish for contempt of court in circumstances where this Act does not apply.

Commentary

Clause 3 identifies the principal purposes and objectives of the Bill. It confirms our intention to reform the law of contempt of court for the purposes of promoting and facilitating the administration of justice, upholding the rule of law and maintaining public confidence in the judicial system. It also confirms our intention to abolish common law contempt in circumstances where the Bill applies, while preserving the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to punish contempt of court in circumstances where the Bill does not apply.

Clause 3(2)(d) recognises that the starting point for considering restrictions on publication is a presumption of open justice. Existing restrictions, which constitute unusual circumstances, include the suppression provision in s 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 protecting the identity of child complainants and witnesses in criminal cases and s 438 of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 prohibiting publication of Youth Court proceedings.

Clause 4 – InterpretationTop

4 Interpretation

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—

bailiff has the same meaning as in section 4 of the District Court Act 2016

category, in relation to an offence, has the same meaning as in section 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011

charged, in relation to an offence, means charged with the offence by a charging document filed under the Criminal Procedure Act 2011

constable has the same meaning as in section 4 of the Policing Act 2008

court means any of the following courts:

(a) the District Court:

(b) the High Court:

(c) the Court of Appeal:

(d) the Supreme Court

judicial officer means a High Court Judge, a District Court Judge, a Community Magistrate, or a Justice of the Peace

officer of the court means—

(a) a person who holds an office referred to in section 33 of the Senior Courts Act 2016:

(b) a person who is an officer of the court as defined in section 4 of the District Court Act 2016:

(c) a person who is an officer of any other court to which this Act is applied, if the person is an officer of the court within the meaning of the Act that constitutes that court

online content host, in relation to any information, means the person who has control over the part of the electronic retrieval system, such as an Internet site or an online application, on which the information is posted and accessible by the user

person, in relation to a defendant or other party in any proceedings, includes a body corporate

Police employee has the same meaning as in section 4 of the Policing Act 2008

public prosecution has the same meaning as in section 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011

publish, except in subpart 1 of Part 2, includes—

(a) insert in any newspaper or other periodical publication printed, published, or distributed in New Zealand; or

(b) send to any person, by post or otherwise; or

(c) deliver to any person or leave upon premises occupied by any person; or

(d) broadcast within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1989; or

(e) include in any film or video recording; or

(f) disseminate by means of the Internet or any other electronic, digital, or similar medium; or

(g) display by way of a sign, a notice, a poster, or other means

triable by a jury means—

(a) tried by a jury in accordance with sections 50 and 73 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011; or

(b) tried by a jury in accordance with section 74 of that Act if no order is made under section 102 or 103 of that Act that the person be tried before a Judge without a jury.

Commentary

The definition of online content host is that used in section 4 of the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015. The definition is most relevant to subparts 2 and 6 of Part 2 of the Bill.

The general definition of publish in clause 4 applies to all provisions of the Bill except those in subpart 1 of Part 2. The definition is most relevant to subparts 2 and 6 of Part 2. The definition is broad and includes all dissemination or display of information to any person. The intention is to minimise the potential for legal argument over whether something has been published.

Clause 7 of the Bill (below) provides that for the purposes of subpart 1 of Part 2 of the Bill (which deals with limiting the publication of trial-related information) publication is to be interpreted as having the same meaning as in section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. The definition of publish here in clause 4 does not apply to subpart 1 of Part 2 for the reasons explained in the commentary on clause 7.

Clause 5 – Act binds the CrownTop

5 Act binds the Crown

This Act binds the Crown.

Commentary

Clause 5 confirms that all of the provisions in the Bill will bind the Crown. It has been included to address the presumption in section 27 of the Interpretation Act 1999 that an Act binds the Crown only if it expressly provides the Crown is bound.

Clause 6 – Transitional, savings, and related provisionsTop

6 Transitional, savings, and related provisions

The transitional, savings, and related provisions set out in Schedule 1 have effect according to their terms.