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Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Bill

Introduced March 22. A member’s bill in the name of Chris Finlayson. It proposes an overhaul of the law of contempt in the courts by codifying common law. Completed first reading on May 2 with all parties in support and referred to the Justice Committee. Justice Minister Andrew Little adopted it as a Government Bill. Renamed Contempt of Court Bill. Reported back on April 5 with a number of changes. These included reducing the penalties for juror contempt, the rules around publication of suppressed information and removing the offence of scandalising the court. Second reading interrupted on May 29 with Little indicating he was considering reinserting some form of protection for judges and the courts from extreme criticism. Committee stage interrupted on Aug 7 with Little introducing an amendment making it an offence to make a false statement about a judge. He said this was narrower than the old ‘scandalising’ offence and would not make it an offence to be critical of a judge’s decisions. Committee stage completed on Aug 8 and third reading on August 2 with National and ACT opposed due to the protection of judges amendments. Administration of Justice (Reform of Contempt of Court) Bill