Contempt and court reporting chart

The following chart shows how contempt, privilege, defamation and sub judice interact during the reporting of legal proceedings.

They show two common scenarios. In the first, a crime is committed then - after an investigation - a man is charged and undergoes a trial. In the second, a man is arrested at the scene of the crime and goes through the court process.

From the colour-coded steps in the process, see how the different aspects of laws governing reporting change as the case proceeds.

OFFENCE Robbery Police arrest a man
  at the scene of a 
INVESTIGATION Police hunt for robber stabbing
They issue description  
  He is questioned
They question a man  
ARREST/ CHARGE A man is charged He is charged with murder
REMAND/ COMMITTAL He appears before magistrates He appears before magistrates
TRIAL He stands trial He stands trial
VERDICT Jury finds him guilty The jury finds him
  NOT guilty
SENTENCE Judge jails him  
APPEAL He appeals  
Appeal is dismissed


  No restrictions on reporting - except for Defamation laws
  Start of sub judice period. Restrict reports to known or indisputable facts of the charge
  Still sub judice. Restrict reports to proceedings of courts
  Technically still sub judice. Beware of possible contempt of the Appeal Court
Assume proceedings are 'pending' if:
* a person is arrested or charged
* a warrant is issued for someone's arrest
* any other act (e.g. issue of a summons) has set the  
process in train.

For a humorous look at how the laws interact, click here to see a cartoon by Papua New Guinean artist Bob Browne in Chapter 66: Court reporting, a case in practice.

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Media law & ethics in Australia
  1. Media law & ethics in Australia - Introduction
  2. Defamation in Australia
  3. Contempt & court reporting in Australia
  4. Copyright in Australia
  5. Vilification in Australia
  6. National security and anti-terrorism in Australia

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