Contempt of Court
The report noted that there was considerable degree of uncertainty as to the meaning and operation of contempt of court. The report (published in 1986) therefore recommends that there should be a comprehensive Contempt of Court Ordinance which provides (a) a clear statement of the principles by which "contempt of court" is defined; (b) clear procedures establishing how contempts are to be dealt with in specific situations; (c) clear guidelines to allow the media to understand at what time publication can constitute contempt; (d) clear limits on the penalties which may be imposed for contempt of court; and (e) clear rules as to who may commence and discontinue contempt proceedings.
The Commission also recommends that it should not amount to a contempt of court if the publication formed part of a legitimate discussion of matters of general public interest and the publication only incidentally created a risk of prejudice to particular proceedings, or if the publication was a fair and accurate report of legal proceedings in open court published contemporaneously and in good faith. Further, it should not be contempt to refuse to disclose the source of information contained in any publication unless it is established that disclosure is essential in the interests of the administration of justice or national security or for the prevention of disorder or crime.
Many of the recommendations in the Commission Report follow the Report of the Phillimore Committee and the Contempt of Court Act 1981 in the United Kingdom.
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