The objective of the law of contempt of court is to protect the integrity of the justice system and a defendant’s right to a fair trial. However, the law is vague in scope, uses outdated language and concepts and is inaccessible to the New Zealand public. It was developed prior to the Internet age and the enactment of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
Most of the law of contempt is common law (law made by the courts), but parts of it that deal with conduct in court and specific offences relating to the administration of justice, such as perjury, are contained in statutes.
The Law Commission will undertake a first principles review of the law of contempt of court and make recommendations to ensure the law is appropriate for modern New Zealand, taking into account:
The review will consider whether the common law of contempt should be further amended or replaced by statutory provisions. In particular, it will include an examination of: