Proposed Reform

Decent Essays
Part B The principle of open justice is a vital characteristic of the court system. Lord Atkinson in Scott v Scott noted that public trials are ‘the best security for the pure, impartial, and efficient administration of justice, the best means of winning for it public confidence.’ Similarly, Gibbs J in Russell asserted that this principles ensures ‘the proceedings of every court are fully exposed to public and professional scrutiny, without which abuses may flourish undetected’. It follows that the media ordinarily has a right to report on Court proceedings. This entitlement has been described as a fundamental necessity ‘given that ‘few members of the public have the time, or the inclination, to attend courts.’. Nevertheless, the law has…show more content…
Firstly, sexual offences are associated with a stigma that does not occur in other types of offences. Secondly, studies have demonstrated that identification causes significant distress for victims and may deter them from reporting offences at first instance. Thus, restricting the media’s ability to report on sexual offences enables victim’s to avoid social scrutiny, whilst they are coming to terms with their ordeal, and may also foster a culture where such offences are reported more freely. At common law the courts are empowered to issue suppression orders only where publicity is considered to ‘prejudice the administration of justice’. Embarrassment of either party is not considered a sufficient ground to derogate from open justice at common law. However, in New South Wales s 8 of the Court Suppression and Non-Publication Orders (CSNO) Act 2010, empowers courts to suppress the publication of material discussed in trial if ‘the order is necessary to avoid causing undue distress or embarrassment to a party or to a witness in criminal proceedings involving an offence of a sexual nature’. This power enables the courts to balance the need for transparency in justice with the impact of publication on a complainant and place appropriate restrictions on reporting, especially in cases involving minors. The media should be entitled to report…show more content…
However, in the context of sexual offences, in particular those involving minors, the publication of explicit details is not always conducive to the public interest and may instead adversely impact the victim’s welfare. New South Wales has sought to counter these concerns via the CSNO Act, and this approach has been lauded by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute. Introducing a similar mechanism in Queensland, whereby courts can make an order suppressing the publication of material discussed at trial if it is likely to unduly embarrass or distress a witness or complainant, would be desirable. Such measures will improve protections afforded to victims of sexual offences without significantly abrogating the transparency of the justice
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