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Report No. 200

Other Law Reform Commissions:

We shall also briefly refer to the views of other Law Reform Commissions on "suppression" orders.

The Australian Law Reform Commission in its Report on Contempt and Prejudice to Jury (Report No.35, 1987) accepted the risk that reports of legal proceedings may contain material that could prejudice a jury trial. It recommended that a Court should have power to postpone publication of a report of any part of proceedings if it is satisfied that the publication could give rise to a substantial risk that the fair trial of an accused for an indictable offence might be prejudiced because of the influence which the publication may have on jurors (para 324). In para 327 it recommended ban on media reports of committal proceedings.

The Law Reform Commission of Victoria (Australia) was of the same opinion as the Law Reform Commission of Australia (Law Reform Commission of Victoria, Comments on the Australian Law Reform Commission Report on contempt No.35 (unpublished, 1987).

The Commonwealth Government (Australia) also recommended the implementation of its 1992 Paper (Australia, Attorney General's Dept, The Law of Contempt: Commonwealth Position Paper (1992)) and prepared a Bill on that basis for the consideration of a Standing Committee of Attorney General. The Bill of 1993 was called the Crimes (Protection of the Administration of Justice) Amendment Bill, 1993 (cth).

In Canada, it is not permissible to pass a suppression order on the basis of speculative possibility of prejudice to a fair trial but the publication must be of such as would create 'real and substantial risk' of prejudice to a fair trial (Dagenais v. Canadian Broadcasting Corpn: (1994) 120 DLR (4th) 12.

The Irish Law Reforms Commission has recommended stricter provisions of a ban on reporting of preliminary proceedings of indictable offences, such as committal proceedings. (Irish Law Reform Commission, Contempt of Court, Report No.47, 1994, para 6.37to 6.42 and Consultation Paper (1991) 343-350). In fact, that was the position under section 17 of the (Ireland) Criminal Procedure Act, 1967 (which of course did not apply to bail proceedings) and the Commission felt that that provision has never been questioned in Ireland. Such a procedure would ensure that media did not report matters which a criminal court could treat as 'inadmissible' later.

There are several statutes such as the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Terrorist and Disruptive Act, 1985 (1987), the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002, and the Unlawful Activists (Preventive) Act, 1967as amended in 2004. These Acts contain a number of exceptions to the principles or open justice.

Trial by Media free speech and fair trial under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 Back

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