Suppression order review to look beyond the numbers
Suppression orders are the focus of the latest review by legal experts from the independent South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI) which is based at the University of Adelaide.
SALRI’s review will look at how suppression orders are being used and consider whether the South Australian Parliament and courts are achieving a satisfactory balance between open justice and other competing interests.
The review will also consider how suppression orders can meet the complex challenges posed by the digital age, including online anonymous reporting of legal cases which are widely distributed across multiple jurisdictions.
The University of Adelaide’s Professor John Williams AM, Director of SALRI, said that suppression orders have an important role to play in the legal system.
“Suppression orders are, in many cases, necessary to ensure the right to a fair trial and the proper administration of justice. However, this must be weighed against the impact on open justice and, in turn, public confidence in the administration of justice,” Professor Williams said.
“There are many competing interests across the different groups impacted by suppression orders, and we are inviting input from all sectors of the community as part of our review.”
The review will include an in-depth examination of suppression orders issued by courts, as well as round table discussions, online surveys and community consultation sessions.
Ms Jemma Holt, SALRI Lead Researcher on this project, said a review was timely.
“When compared to other states, suppression orders in South Australia are considered prevalent,” she said.
“In 2020-2021, 268 suppression orders were made in South Australia - the highest number in 20 years. This trend has continued, with 351 suppression orders made in 2021-22.”
“Whilst a higher number of suppression orders itself is not necessarily problematic, it is difficult to assess without a comprehensive inquiry – our research intends to look beyond the numbers.”
“Suppression orders are, in many cases, necessary to ensure the right to a fair trial and the proper administration of justice. However, this must be weighed against the impact on open justice and, in turn, public confidence in the administration of justice.”Professor John Williams AM, Director of SALRI
Victoria and New South Wales, which also currently record a high level of suppression orders, have initiated comprehensive independent reviews of the suppression order schemes within those States.
The project will be assisted by the Hon Geoff Muecke, Adjunct Professor at the University of Adelaide and former Chief Judge of the District Court, who will share his knowledge and experience with the researchers.
SALRI Deputy Director, Associate Professor David Plater, encourages any interested party or individual to share their views.
“SALRI is committed to an impartial, active and inclusive process of gathering the views of people in Adelaide but especially in regional SA,” he said.
“Suppression orders affect accused persons, victims, witnesses, litigants, the courts, the legal profession, the media, and the community in unique ways, so we want to hear from people from a variety of backgrounds.”
“We want to get an understanding of their views on the role and operation of suppression orders, the ways in which the present law and practice can be improved.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the review can visit the SALRI website to access the project Fact Sheet and online survey or send a written submission via email.
Regional consultation will be held in Port Pirie and Port Augusta on 20-21 April 2023 and Mount Gambier on 3-4 August 2023.
People interested in attending industry or regional consultation roundtables may email SALRI for more details and register their interest.
Consultation closes on 30 September 2023.
SALRI aims to have completed its final report and to have released it to the Attorney-General, the Chief Justice, the Law Society of South Australia and the Law Foundation of South Australia by 31 January 2024.
This research project has been made possible thanks to funding from the Law Foundation of South Australia Inc.
About the South Australian Law Reform Institute
The South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI) is an independent nonpartisan law reform body, which utilises the expertise of University of Adelaide researchers, professors and students in reviewing and researching with a view to making recommendations for the modernisation and consolidation of the law.
SALRI, which is based at the University of Adelaide Law School, is formed by an agreement between the Attorney-General of South Australia, the University of Adelaide and the Law Society of South Australia.
Further information about SALRI can be found here.
Jemma Holt, Researcher, SA Law Reform Institute, University of Adelaide. Mobile: +61(0)438 885 891, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Professor David Plater, Deputy Director, SA Law Reform Institute, University of Adelaide. Mobile: +61(0)427 214 802, Email: email@example.com
Fiona Crowe, Media Officer, The University of Adelaide. Mobile: +61 (0)419 213 333, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org