4.6 Filming, photographing and recording in court

The In-Court Media Coverage Guidelines 2016 were issued by the judiciary to deal specifically with filming, photographing and recording of activity and proceedings in the Court of Appeal, High Court, District Court and Employment Court.

If you want to film or record proceedings in court for publication or broadcast or wish to photograph a court in session, you must apply through the registrar of the court concerned, in accordance with the following guidelines and on the prescribed application form. Applications are approved at the discretion of the judge.

The registrar will refer your application to the lawyers for the parties involved in the proceedings and any unrepresented parties, and then to the presiding judge. If the hearing event relates to a sexual offence, counsel for the Crown will provide a copy of your request to the complainant and obtain their views about film, photographic and/or voice-recording coverage.

Whenever authority is granted to media to cover a hearing, permission is given on the basis that the conditions imposed are minimum conditions. All matters relating to in-court media coverage are at the discretion of the court.

A media applicant and anybody acting on their behalf (such as journalists, camera operators, sound technicians or photographers) must ensure that they follow the conditions imposed.

Applications are valid for the duration of each hearing. If a hearing lasts more than one day and is heard in a continuous manner, then the original application will cover the second and subsequent days. This applies to the Court of Appeal, High Court and District Court. If the hearing is adjourned to a new date, a new application will need to be made.

Some courts have special media provisions such as the Supreme Court, Waitangi Tribunal, Family Court and Youth Court.

Judicial decisions

Consent to film, photograph or record a hearing event is at the judge’s discretion and, if granted, may be issued with restrictions additional to those in the guidelines.

A judge may grant an application if all parties have advised their consent or non-opposition, or if the time for notifying any opposition has passed and no party has given notice of any opposition.

A judge may decline to consider an application if it is lodged after the minimum time required before the hearing (see guidelines below).

If permission is granted, you should follow the standard conditions for film, still photographs and recording in Schedules 2, 3 and 4 of the In-Court Media Coverage Guidelines 2016, which can be found in Appendix A.

At any time, a judge may revoke an authority to cover a hearing if:

  • the media applicant, or someone acting on their behalf, breaches the guidelines or any condition of the authority to cover the hearing
  • the judge believes that the rights of any participant in the hearing event could be prejudiced by coverage continuing
  • the judge believes that the defendant’s right to a fair hearing could be prejudiced by media continuing coverage of the hearing which could disrupt the proceedings.

Process for making an application

Media wanting to film, take photographs or to record court proceedings must lodge an application on the prescribed form with the registrar of the court in which the hearing is to take place.

Applications need to be made to a specific court hearing, such as a first appearance, entry of plea, case review, trial or sentencing.

Applications should be filed with the registrar of the court at least ten working days before the hearing is due to start, except in relation to a first appearance in a criminal matter. District Court and Coroners Court applications must be filed at least three working days in advance.

If your application is late, you must explain why it is late and why the application should be granted despite this.

The form for making an application can be found on the Ministry of Justice website https://justice.govt.nz/about/news-and-media/media-centre/media-information/

Contact details for the Courts are available on the Ministry of Justice website.

Email applications

Please use ‘Media Application’ in the subject line of your application to help ensure it is processed promptly. The completed prescribed application form must be attached to the email.

You will receive email notification that your application has been received.

If you wish to follow up on or discuss this application, please telephone the court concerned. The contact details are available on the Courts of New Zealand website.

Other ways to lodge applications

Applications can also be faxed, handed over in hard copy or posted to the court registrar and must also include the details listed in the email application section above.

Response to an application

The parties who receive an application to film, photograph or record a hearing event must provide their response in writing to the registrar, media applicant and other parties within three working days.

If any party opposes the application, in whole or in part, they must include a reason for their opposition in their response.

The court will advise the applicant as to whether the application has been granted.

If someone objects

If any party objects to your media coverage application, the judge will make the final decision.

The judge may decide to hold a hearing to consider any objections before declining or approving your application. If this is the case, you and your lawyer or other representative may appear at the hearing.

Retain copies

Copies of all publications of information obtained from court must be retained until the conclusion of the trial or disposition of any subsequent appeal or any related proceedings and for a further 12 months. A copy must be supplied to the court if requested by the Judge.

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