1.0 Introduction

The Ministry of Justice (the Ministry) is committed to working with the media to help the public understand New Zealand’s justice system and to make the work of courts as open and transparent as possible, within the confines of governing legislation and the principle of judicial discretion.

The Courts sit apart from the Ministry of Justice to retain the separation of powers between the three arms of government: The Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary. The work of the Legislature is to make laws and to scrutinise the Executive. The Executive – Ministers and Government departments - create policy and propose and administer law. The Judiciary – New Zealand’s Judges – interpret and apply the law.

Our intention is to foster a consistent and clear-cut approach across the court system in all our working relationships with the media.

In New Zealand, most court activity and trials are open to the media and may be reported in full.

The presiding Judge, however, has the power to control court proceedings. This includes discretion over media attendance and coverage, to ensure a fair trial and to protect the integrity of the process.

We greatly appreciate the media’s care and professionalism in reporting court proceedings and wish to provide assistance where possible.

This resource will assist your coverage of court proceedings, help you to protect the rights of individuals before the court and provide you with information that will help you ensure that you are working within the relevant legislation and rules that govern the court process.

These media guidelines relate to proceedings in the criminal justice system and other specialist courts and tribunals. The guidelines set out in general terms:

  • things you need to know when attending court
  • what you may and may not report in relation to court proceedings
  • what information is available to you
  • the processes for accessing and using court information.

An electronic version of this guide is available on the media centre section of the Ministry’s website and is updated as required.

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