The Law Commission was asked to undertake a first principles review of the law of contempt of court.
The contempt laws were developed by the courts over the centuries to protect the integrity of the justice system. Since they were first developed, there have been massive changes in technology around the world. Most New Zealand citizens have virtually unobstructed access to an almost limitless amount of information through the Internet, and this is changing the way people communicate and live their lives. The Internet poses a huge challenge to the law of contempt and our concept of what constitutes a fair trial.
As most of the law of contempt is not contained in any statute, it is inaccessible to the New Zealand public. Given the criminal nature of punishments for most contempts, the Commission thinks the time has come for the contempt laws to be set out in statute so they are as clear and as accessible to the public as possible.
In this Issues Paper, the Commission outlines its proposals for the modernisation and reform of the laws of contempt and looks forward to receiving public submissions in response.
Sir Grant Hammond