The NSW Law Reform Commission review into laws that regulate the access to, disclosure and publication of information in NSW courts and tribunals has kicked off with a call for submissions.
The Justice Department of the NSW government publicised the request, while explaining that the open justice review comes in the context of “concerns expressed in NSW and elsewhere in Australia about the operation of the existing laws, particularly in the digital environment”.
The laws generally seek to ensure fair justice and the privacy and safety of court participants while also promoting transparency and a greater understanding of the justice system, where possible, it was noted.
According to the Justice Department, the review will consider the operation of suppression and non-publication orders to determine if current laws strike the right balance between the proper administration of justice, the rights of victims and witnesses, the right to a fair trial, privacy and confidentiality public safety and public interest as well as commercial interests and national security.
A statement noted that the review will also cover:
- If suppression and non-publication orders are effective in the digital environment, and whether there are appropriate alternatives.
- If technology can be used to facilitate access to court and tribunal information.
- The impact of information access regimes on the operation of NSW courts and tribunals.
- The appropriateness of laws prohibiting the identification of children and young people who are involved in civil and criminal proceedings.
- Findings from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse regarding the public interest in exposing child abuse offending.
Comparable legal and practical arrangements, both in Australia and overseas, will form part of the review.
According to the department, preliminary submissions will help frame the issues that should be addressed during consultations, with one or more consultation papers to be produced later this year.
It comes after the Victorian parliament last week passed laws which “reinforce the presumption in favour of open justice and the disclosure of information in Victorian courts” for victims of sexual or family violence.
Lawyers Weekly has also previously looked at whether suppression orders are futile in the 21st century.