The NEW ZEALAND BILL OF RIGHTS ACT 1990 guarantees the right of freedom of expression. However, the exercise of this right by the press and other media is subject to the restrictions outlined below.
Probably the most substantial restrictions on the freedom of the media are those that apply to the reporting of court proceedings. The court has the power in certain circumstances to make suppression orders banning the media from reporting certain details about a case; there are also specific rules that apply to court reporting of sexual cases (see below).
Further, while a trial is in progress the media are not permitted to publish anything that might prejudice the outcome of the case.
Proceedings in the Family Court are always closed.
The court may make a suppression order prohibiting the media from publishing certain information about a case if this is required in the interests of any of the following:
In these circumstances the court can do one or more of the following:
The court also has a general power to prohibit the media from publishing the name, address or occupation of the person accused or convicted of the offence, or of any other person connected with the proceedings (see How to obtain name suppression in criminal cases).
Permanent name suppression for defendants is ordered only rarely, as there is a strong presumption by the court that it is in the public interest to make the names available.
The court has the power to make suppression orders in cases involving sexual crimes (see above). Further, in this type of case the media is not permitted to publish the name of the victim, nor any details likely to lead to him or her being identified, unless the victim is 16 or over and the court specifically makes an order permitting publication.
In sexual cases the court also has the specific power to ban the reporting of the criminal acts involved in the case.
If anything is printed or displayed about you that is untrue and that damages your reputation, you may bring an action against the publisher of the material for defamation (see How to bring an action in defamation).
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