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Bill To Reform the Law of Contempt Drawn

Bill To Reform the Law of Contempt Drawn

A Members’ Bill by National MP Chris Finlayson aims to reform the current law around contempt of court to bring it up-to-date and make it more accessible and understandable.

“I am delighted that the Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Bill was drawn from the members’ ballot yesterday. It is the result of a decade-long project that first began during the time I served as the Attorney General,” Mr Finlayson says.

“The Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Bill covers an area of law that is not well known but it is designed to ensure that court hearings are not disrupted, trials are not prejudiced by unfair publicity and that jurors decide cases only on lawfully admitted evidence.

“It will allow judgments and court orders to be enforced and ensure that the judiciary is protected as far as practicable from false attacks which undermine public confidence in the system. The reform would ensure that the law keeps pace with the digital age.

“Let me make it clear. It is not about protecting judges from criticism. There will, of course, be times when it is entirely appropriate to criticise a judgment. That will not change.

“There are, however, increasing instances where court hearings are disrupted, online publicity prejudices trials, and the availability of a vast amount of information online leads to a variety of problems for the administration of justice including creating prejudice and undermining the rule of law.

“This is an opportunity for all members of the community to look closely at the proposed law and I hope parties will support the Bill to its first reading. This will allow the media, the Law Society and judges themselves to be heard on this important reform.”


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