Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Publications

Project 93(I) - Contempt in the face of the court

Project No. 93(I)

Commenced: 2000
Completed: 2003

The law relating to contempt in the face of the court in Western Australia has some unique features. It is the only criminal offence in the state that is not a creature of statute; and it is tried by a mode of trial unlike that for any other offence.

Liability for contempt in the face of the court is based on the general concept of ‘interference with the due administration of justice’. Such a broad and potentially discretionary test can no longer be justified in light of contemporary demands to make the application of the law more certain and consistent. The Discussion Paper concludes that the existing general test be replaced by a series of specific statutory offences.

Terms of Reference

The term of reference in the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia's reference on the law of contempt was:

to inquire into and report upon the principles, practices and procedures relating to contempt in the face of the court and whether the law pertaining thereto should be reformed and, if so, in what manner.

Outcomes

The Commission made 19 recommendations in its Final Report. The aim of the proposals was to codify and bring uniformity to the laws on contempt in the face of the court. In formulating its proposals the Commission was mindful of the significance of contempt laws in maintaining judicial control over court proceedings. The Commission recommended that the existing general test be replaced by a series of specific statutory offences.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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