Not seeing justice done: suppression orders in Australian law and practice

Law Australia

There are varied Australian approaches to suppression orders under common law and statute. This article outlines notable aspects of the law and examines concerns that have been raised by commentators about practices in Australia. Suppression or non-publication orders have been described as being made too frequently, especially outside the superior courts; their varied legal basis has been said to limit clear and comprehensive analysis by judges and lawyers; orders have been said to lack appropriate argument and reasons to support them; and their scope, precision and duration have been criticized. Existing Australian law and practice is used to evaluate reforms that came into force in April 2007 in South Australia. The reforms appear to be aimed at reducing the number of suppression orders and moving the law closer to the position that applies in most Australian jurisdictions. They offer an important opportunity for the development of suppression order law and practice within South Australia and elsewhere. Analyzing restrictions on publication also suggests there would be value in comparative and empirical research into suppression order practice for investigating what, if any, changes are warranted to the applicable law or court procedures.

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