Contempt of Court

Publication Date 
21 June 2019

The Justice Committee’s report on the Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Bill was tabled in Parliament on 5 April 2019.

The Bill in its original form was based on the Law Commission’s 2017 report Reforming the Law of Contempt of Court: A Modern Statute – Ko te Whakahou i te Ture mō Whawhati Tikanga ki  te Kōti: He Ture Ao Hou, which made recommendations to modernise and clarify the law of contempt. The Bill was introduced as a private member’s Bill by Hon Christopher Finlayson QC and was then taken over by the Government. It received cross-party support during its first reading.

The Justice Committee accepted the Law Commission’s principal recommendation that the existing common law of contempt should be codified as much as possible. At the same time the Committee has recommended a number of changes to the Bill. Perhaps the most significant of these is that the common law contempt known as “scandalising the court” should not be replaced by a limited statutory offence, as proposed by the Commission.

You can read a summary of the Justice Committee’s recommended amendments on the New Zealand Parliament website.

The President of the Commission, Sir Douglas White, gave a paper on the new contempt legislation at a Legal Research Foundation Media Law Seminar in Auckland on 15 May this year.

The Bill passed its second reading on 18 June.