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Rules and resources

Observe suppressions

Criminal procedure act

Press benches

Further information

Observe suppressions

There may be times in the progress of a case that restrictions apply to what information can be made public in order to protect the interests of justice and the integrity of the trial process.

Suppressions are either automatically applied under statute, or judge-ordered. A suppression order could be applied to a defendant, a witness, a victim, or someone associated with the case. It could be an existing order of the court, an order of a lower court, or an order made in the course of delivering a judgment. It could be an interim suppression (details suppressed while a judge considers a suppression application), a permanent suppression, or an order that stands until the matter is disposed of by the courts.

It is misleading to suggest that a judge has prohibited publication of details that are protected by statutory prohibition. It is Parliament’s direction that these details are automatically and absolutely suppressed. 

The courts publish a guide on those statutory provisions that prohibit the publication of certain information in certain circumstances. It is intended as a guide only - exceptions may apply.

Statutory prohibitions on publication at July 2019 [PDF, 322.1 KB]

It is the responsibility of anyone publishing information about a trial to be informed of and observe these prohibitions.  If unsure, check with the appropriate court registry.

When suppression is dealt with under the Criminal Procedure Act 2011, the media have the right to tell the court their views (s210). Media also have the right to appeal a Court's decision on an order and to apply for a suppression order.

You can be penalised if you break a suppression order. Check with the registrar if you are unsure about a suppression order and encourage your media organisation to seek legal advice if there is any doubt about what can and cannot be published.

Criminal Procedure Act

The Criminal Procedure Act 2011 recognises the role of the media in New Zealand’s courts, defines who the media are, and allows reporters to be heard on name suppression matters. Changes to the Act were introduced in 2013 to simplify and streamline court processes. How these changes may affect the media is discussed in this Ministry of justice brochure:

Criminal procedure at a glance [PDF, 312KB]

Press benches

‘Press bench' signs are used in courtrooms to designate a media-only space. The term 'press bench' encompasses all media and ranges from a single chair and table, part of a shared bench, through to a designated bench with several chairs. Some courts are able to allocate a permanent press bench space, while other courts manage designated press bench space on a day-by-day, case-by-case basis.

Where there are more media than can be accommodated at the press bench, it is important to let court staff know and they will find you alternative seating within the courtroom. The presiding judge will be notified accordingly.

Further information

Please refer to Courts of NZ (www.courtsofnz.co.nz) website for:

  • Daily lists and upcoming cases (link)
  • Judgments of Public Interest (link)
  • New Zealand court process for murder charges (link, PDF, 271KB)
  • Information on statutory prohibitions (link, PDF, 322.1KB)

 

Ministry of Justice information for media: https://www.justice.govt.nz/about/news-and-media/

District Court decisions: www.districtcourts.govt.nz

District Court media information: http://www.districtcourts.govt.nz/media-information/

Please note If your inquiry relates to a matter currently before the court it should be directed to the registry where the matter is being dealt with. Locate a New Zealand court: https://www.justice.govt.nz/contact-us/find-us

For New Zealand legislation including the Criminal Procedure Act 2011: www.legislation.govt.nz 

For other general inquiries relating to the Senior Courts (Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court) and the Courts of New Zealand website email: courtsnzwebsite@courts.govt.nz

For specific media inquiries please contact:

    
   Chief Advisor Judicial Development and Communications