The courts are independent of the legislative (Parliament) and the executive (Cabinet) and are not subject to the Official Information Act. Each court has its own search rules, and the judge in each case can exercise wide discretion about what information is released by the court and when in order to protect the integrity of the trial process.
The Ministry of Justice, which provides administrative support to the courts, provides the following guidance to media re accessing information from the courts:
“Court staff cannot give you information about a criminal case where a defendant has not yet appeared in court. This is to allow the possibility of suppression being ordered by the judge at the first appearance or because automatic suppression may apply. This includes confirming whether a particular person has charges pending.
If you do not attend a hearing in person and would like information about a case, you need to make a request for information in accordance with the relevant search rules. Once the matter has been brought before the court, the only information court staff can give you without reference to the court rules is the details of the next appearance. Simple requests can be made by calling the Contact Centre on 0800 268 787.
If the Contact Centre is unable to answer your question, they will refer you to the appropriate court.
If you want to find out more about a specific case, you need to apply to search the court record.