The Law Commission has finished its review into the laws of contempt of court.
Contempt laws protect the justice system, including a defendant's right to a fair trial.
Contempt rules are currently a mix of court decisions and various laws passed by Parliament. The Law Commission report recommends putting most contempt law into statute so it is easier to find and understand. Offences and penalties for each kind of contempt would be clearly set out in the new statute.
Justice Minister Amy Adams welcomed the Law Commission’s report which she tabled in Parliament last week. She says the Government will carefully consider the recommendations and respond in due course.
“We need to consider how these recommendations would work in practice so that any changes we make are effective and fair.”
Law Commission President Douglas White says contempt issues continue to arise and so reform is timely.
For instance, last week three senior Australian federal ministers had to apologise unreservedly to the Victorian Supreme Court so as to avoid facing charges of contempt. The three ministers had earlier told the after telling the newspaper the Australian that the Victorian judiciary was being soft on terrorists.
This type of contempt, with its implications for administering justice, is one that the Law Commission's report addresses in its recommendations.
You can read more about the Law Commission's Final Report Reforming the Law of Contempt of Court: A Modern Statute - Ko te Whakahou i te Ture mō Te Whawhati Tikanga ki te Kōti: He Ture Ao Hou