The Youth Court is part of the District Court but its proceedings are not open to the public. Media are entitled and welcome to attend Youth Court proceedings. Specific conditions apply when reporting on Youth Court proceedings as outlined below.
Restrictions on reporting
Under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 you cannot publish any report of proceedings without the permission of the presiding judge.
The Youth Court is keen to adopt an open approach to publication and will generally take the least restrictive approach necessary, consistent with the principles of the Act and subject to the interests of a fair trial. It should be noted that, in making this decision, the welfare and interests of the young person shall be the first and paramount consideration (section 6 of the Oranga Tamariki Act).
Requests to publish a report of proceedings should be made in writing to the registrar before the case starts. If necessary, you can make an oral request in court when the case is first called or seek leave at the completion of the case. Attendance at court should not be assumed as implied permission to report the proceedings.
In considering a request to report on proceedings, the Youth Court judge may seek the views of the youth advocate, the Police and other relevant parties before making a decision.
If leave is given to publish, there are certain matters under section 438(3) of the Oranga Tamariki Act which are prohibited from publication. You may not publish, nor does a judge have the discretion to allow you to publish:
These restrictions continue to apply even if the young person is deceased.
In some cases, leave to publish may be subject to further conditions as specified by the judge.
It is only in rare cases that leave to publish will be refused. This may be to protect witnesses who may be later giving evidence in trails at the District or High Court or to ensure that a fair trial is not prejudiced.
Family group conferences
The Oranga Tamariki Act prohibits the publication of any particulars that could lead to the identifiction of a person who was the subject of, or a participant in, a family group conference.
It may be possible to report on what was agreed as part of the family group conference and discussed in court, unless the publication might prejudice the treatment or rehabilitation of the young person or otherwise compromise the principles or provisions of the Act. You should check with the judge involved if you want to report on this aspect of the family group conference.
As a media representative coming into a Youth Court to cover proceedings or when you make an enquiry of court staff, you may be required to provide professional identification to confirm that you are representing a media organisation and also asked to confirm that you understand the reporting restrictions.
Media and reporting protocol guide
This guide by the Principal Youth Court Judge aims to assist reporters who wish to cover Youth Court proceedings in an accurate, fair and balanced way and can be found here.
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