If you’re involved in court proceedings, it’s important to understand something about the laws of contempt so that you don’t accidentally fall foul of the law.
At its most basic the law of contempt is a set of laws, developed over centuries, that prohibits people from being disrespectful or contemptuous of courts.
It covers a wide range of things including prohibiting people from being disruptive in court or publishing things which should not be published about court proceedings. It can also include contempt by jurors, which is when members of juries, for example, do their own research on the internet about a case.
Ultimately the aim of the laws is to protect the proper administration of justice.
However, with rapidly evolving ways of communicating, critics argue the laws of contempt are out of date.
The Victorian Law Reform Commission has been asked by the government to investigate the laws of contempt and make recommendations on how the laws might be improved to better reflect contemporary life.
“One question is how the law of contempt can be applied in the digital age when people have access to much more information and when news items can be spread around the globe much more quickly than they used to be,” says the VLRC’s Nick Gadd.