10.6 Appendix F: Environment Court in-court media coverage guidelines

Environment Court in-court media coverage guidelines 2011

1. Application of guidelines

These guidelines:

  1. apply to all proceedings in the Environment Court from 1 October 2011, except to court-assisted mediations, which are conducted in confidence and in private
  2. do not have legislative force
  3. do not create enforceable rights and should not be construed to create expectations
  4. replace the Environment Court's In-Court Media Coverage Guidelines 2005.

2. Purpose and relevant matters

1. These guidelines are intended to ensure that applications for in-court media coverage are dealt with expeditiously and fairly and that, so far as possible, like cases are treated alike.

2.In making decisions and exercising discretion under these guidelines, the court will have regard to the following matters:

  1. the need for a fair hearing
  2. the desirability of open justice
  3. the principle that the media have an important role in the reporting of hearings as the eyes and ears of the public
  4. the importance of fair and balanced reporting of hearings
  5. the interests and reasonable concerns and perceptions of witnesses
  6. the ability to accommodate media personnel and equipment in the hearing venue having regard to the reasonable requirements of the parties, counsel, witnesses and the court
  7. the avoidance of serious offence to tikanga Māori, including the disclosure of the locations of waahi tapu, and the avoidance of the disclosure of trade secrets or unreasonable prejudice to the commercial position of any person.

3. Interpretation

1. For the purposes of these guidelines:

the court means the Environment Court:

cover means:

  1. film (with or without audio recording) or
  2. take still photographs or
  3. audio record.

hearing includes a public hearing in any venue before the Environment Court, and includes a site visit undertaken by the court. Please note court-assisted mediations are not public hearings.

hearing manager means the Environment Court staff member assigned as hearing manager to the member of the court who is to preside at the hearing.

judge includes an environment judge, alternate environment judge, and an environment commissioner sitting as the presiding officer of the court.

media applicant means a person who has applied under these guidelines to cover a hearing.

publish means disseminate to the public in any form (and published and publication have corresponding meanings).

the standard conditions mean:

  1. in the case of an application to film, the conditions set out in Schedule 2
  2. in the case of an application to take still photographs, the conditions set out in Schedule 3
  3. in the case of an application to record, the conditions set out in Schedule 4.

witness means any person who gives evidence on oath or affirmation in a hearing.

witness applicant means a witness who has made an application under guideline 10.

2. Where any word or expression used is not defined in these guidelines but is defined in the District Court Rules or the High Court Rules, it has the meaning given to it in those rules, unless the context otherwise requires.

4. Discretion of the court

1. All matters relating to in-court media coverage are at the discretion of the court.

2. Guidelines 5 to 15 apply subject to subclause (1).

5. Electronic communication

1. This guideline applies to any electronic communication of information from inside the hearing venue to outside the hearing venue.

2. No such electronic communication shall be made other than by a member of a recognised media organisation.

3. Any such electronic communication must take place as unobtrusively as possible and in such a manner as not to interfere in any way with the running of the hearing.

4. While the judge is sitting in court for chambers or in closed court, no such electronic communication must take place.

5. Information communicated electronically must not be published or be the subject of any publication until at least 10 minutes have elapsed.

6. Despite subclause (5), information communicated electronically may be published or be the subject of publication immediately or at any time if expressly approved by the judge.

7. Copies of all publications of information communicated electronically or having such information as their subject must be retained until the conclusion of the hearing. A copy must be supplied to the court if requested by the judge.

6. Making application

1. Any person who wishes to cover a hearing must apply to the court in the form prescribed in Schedule 1.

2. Any such application must be lodged with the appropriate hearing manager of the court at least 10 working days before the hearing is due to start. Any application made after that time may be considered at the discretion of the judge who will take account of the ability of other parties to respond within the time available and the ability of the court to commence and progress the hearing as scheduled.

3. On receipt of an application, the hearing manager must refer it promptly to:

  1. the judge who will be presiding at the hearing (or if an environment commissioner is authorised by the Principal Environment Judge to preside under section 280 of the Resource Management Act, then to the Principal Environment Judge)
  2. counsel for the parties
  3. any unrepresented party.

7. Response to application

Within three working days of receipt of an application, any party receiving it must notify the hearing manager, the media applicant and the other parties in writing:

  1. that the application is not opposed or
  2. that the application is opposed (in whole or in part) and the reasons for the opposition.

8. Decision to be made on written material

The judge will consider the written material provided by the parties and decide whether to grant the application as soon as possible after the expiry of the time limit for notification of responses under guideline 7.

9. Decisions

1. In considering the application, the judge may have regard to:

  1. the purpose and matters set out in guideline 2
  2. the media applicant's standing as a media organisation
  3. the nature of the hearing
  4. any other relevant matters.

2. The judge considering the application may:

  1. grant the application in whole or in part, and on the standard or other conditions
  2. decline the application.

10. Discretionary witness protection

1. This guideline applies to all witnesses.

2. Every party proposing to call a witness is to advise the witness of the granting of an authority under guideline 9(2)(a), and of his or her right to apply under this guideline for witness protection.

3. Any witness or the party proposing to call the witness may apply by letter to the hearing manager for a ruling that the witness not be filmed, photographed, or recorded.

4. The application must be lodged at least three clear working days before the hearing is due to start provided that the judge may decide to consider any other application even if the three day time limit is not met.

5. Where written application is made under this rule, the applicant must immediately notify all other parties and any person seeking or granted authority to cover the hearing.

6. The judge may consider the written application and any written response from the parties, and any person seeking or granted authority to cover the hearing, but is not obliged, in the case of an application made during the hearing, to defer ruling on the application because any person granted authority to cover the hearing has not lodged any response.

7. In considering the application, the judge may have regard to:

  1. the purpose and matters set out in guideline 2
  2. whether covering the hearing is likely to affect adversely the quality of the evidence to be given by the witness
  3. whether the presence of a television camera or a photographer or radio crew is likely to lead to the witness not appearing to give evidence
  4. whether being filmed or photographed or recorded may cause undue stress or anxiety to the witness
  5. whether being filmed or photographed or recorded may lead to intimidation or harassment of the witness
  6. whether the witness's privacy interests outweigh the public interest in broadcasting that witness's evidence, given the likely significance of the evidence
  7. any other relevant matters.

8. The judge may rule that:

  1. any person covering the hearing:
    1. must not film, photograph or record the witness while he or she is present at a hearing
    2. must not film, photograph or record the witness anywhere between the time of the ruling and the end of the hearing
    3. may film or photograph the witness but must ensure, if the film is broadcast or the photograph is published, that the witness is not recognisable
    4. may record the witness but must ensure that the witness's voice, if broadcast, is not recognisable
    5. the filming, photographing or recording of the witness is to be subject to any other condition the judge thinks appropriate to meet the purpose of these guidelines.
  2. the witness's application is declined.

9. Where the judge makes a ruling under subclause (8)(a), authority to cover the hearing is subject to that ruling.

10. Where the judge makes a ruling in terms of subclause (8)(a)(i) or (ii), all cameras must be either removed from the hearing venue while the witness is giving evidence or turned away from the witness so that it is apparent to the witness that he or she is not being filmed or photographed.

11. Name suppression and statutory prohibitions

An authority granted to cover a hearing is subject to any statutory prohibition or court direction as to the publication of names, personal particulars or evidence.

12. Briefs of evidence exchanged before a hearing

Material contained in a brief of evidence exchanged in advance of a hearing may not be published before the witness formally tenders that evidence to the court at the hearing, and is in any event subject to any further restrictive ruling made by the court.

13. Revocation of authority to cover a hearing

The judge may at any time revoke authority to cover a hearing if:

  1. the media applicant or someone acting on behalf of the media applicant breaches these guidelines or any condition of the grant of authority to cover the hearing or
  2. the judge determines that the rights of any participant in the hearing may or will be prejudiced if coverage continues or
  3. coverage of the hearing is disrupting the proceedings.

14. Minimum conditions

1. The standard conditions on which authority to cover a hearing are granted are minimum conditions.

2. The media applicant and those acting on behalf of the media applicant must at all times ensure that they do not commit contempt. In particular, they must ensure that they:

  1. do not interfere with the due administration of justice
  2. do nothing that may prejudice a fair hearing.

15. Method of communication

Any written application or response under these guidelines may be delivered, posted, faxed or emailed.

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