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Chapter 7:04

Courts And Adjudicating Authorities (Publicity Restriction) Act

Acts 25/1985, 18/1989 (s. 37), 11/1991 (s. 27), 22/2001 (s. 4).

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

Section

  • Short title.
  • Orders excluding persons from and restricting disclosure of proceedings.
  • Additional powers of Minister regarding certificates prohibiting publicity.
  • Effect of certificates and notices.
  • Protection of record of proceedings.
  • Authority to disclose information.
  • Offences and penalties.
  • Authority of Attorney-General for prosecutions.
  • Evidence and presumptions.
  • Right of audience of State employees. 12 Effect of this Act on other laws.

AN ACT to regulate and restrict attendance at and publication of proceedings of courts and adjudicating authorities; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.

[Date of commencement: 7th February, 1986.]

WHEREAS subsections (10), (11) and (12) of section 18 of the Constitution provide as follows—

  • Except in the case of a trial such as is referred to in subsection (14) or with the agreement of all the parties thereto, all proceedings of every court and proceedings for the determination of the existence or extent of any civil right or obligation before any other adjudicating authority, including the announcement of the decision of the court or other authority, shall be held in public.
  • Nothing in subsection (10) shall prevent—

(a) the court or other adjudicating authority from excluding from the proceedings, except the announcement of its decision, persons other than the parties thereto and their legal representatives to such extent as the court or other authority—

  • may by law be empowered so to do and may consider necessary or expedient in circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice, or in interlocutory proceedings, or in the interests of public morality, the welfare of persons under the age of twenty-one years or the protection of the private lives of persons concerned in the proceedings; or
  • may by law be empowered or required so to do in the interests of defence, public safety, public order or the economic interests of the State; or

(b) the court from excluding from proceedings preliminary to trial in respect of a criminal offence persons other than the accused person and his legal representative when so required by law, unless the accused person otherwise requests.

  • Notwithstanding anything contained in subsection (4), (10) or (11), if in any proceedings before such court or other adjudicating authority as is referred to in subsection (2) or (9), including any proceedings by virtue of section 24, a certificate in writing is produced to the court or other authority signed by a Minister that it would not be in the public interest for any matter to be publicly disclosed, the court or other authority shall make arrangements for evidence relating to that matter to be heard in camera and shall take such other action as may be necessary or expedient to prevent the disclosure of that matter.

AND WHEREAS it is desirable, in accordance with the aforementioned subsections, to make provision for the exclusion of persons from proceedings of courts and adjudicating authorities and to make further provision in regard to the public disclosure of such proceedings:

NOW, THEREFORE, be it enacted as follows:—

1    Short title

This Act may be cited as the Courts and Adjudicating Authorities (Publicity Restriction) Act [Chapter 7:04].

                       2    Interpretation

In this Act—

“adjudicating authority” means any tribunal, board, commission, authority or person, other than a court, that exercises any quasi-judicial or administrative function, whether in terms of any enactment or otherwise;

“certificate” means a certificate issued in terms of subsection (12) of section 18 of the Constitution or in terms of subsection (1) of section four;

“court” means anycourt established by law in Zimbabwe;

“legal representative”, in relation to—

  • any person, means a legal practitioner or other person representing or acting for such firstmentioned person in any proceedings;
  • a person under a disability, includes a parent, guardian, curator, tutor or other person having charge or control over the person under a legal disability or over his affairs;

“notice” means a notice issued in terms of subsection (2) of section four;

“order” means an order made in terms of section three;

“proceedings” means all proceedings of whatsoever nature conducted by or before a court or adjudicating authority;

“record of the proceedings” includes the judgment or decision of a court or adjudicating authority and.any evidence or other matter or thing that forms part of or relates to the record of proceedings before a court or adjudicating authority;

“recording” means any device whereon or wherein information is recorded; “responsible Minister”—

  • in relation to a court or adjudicating authority that is established or constituted in terms of any enactment, means—
    • the Minister to whom the President has for the time being assigned the administration of that enactment; or
    • a Vice-President, where the President has for the time being assigned the administration of that enactment to the Vice-President;
  • in any other case, means the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs or any other Minister to whom the President may from time to time assign the administration of this Act.

                       3     Orders excluding persons from and restricting disclosure of proceedings

(1) Subject to this section and to any other enactment, if at any stage before or during any proceedings a court or adjudicating authority considers it necessary or expedient to do so, the court or adjudicating authority may make any one or more of the following orders, either mero motu or on the application of a party to the proceedings—

  • that all persons or such class of persons as the court or adjudicating authority may specify shall be excluded from the proceedings:

Provided that such an order shall not prevent—

  • the parties to the proceedings and their legal representatives from being present at any stage of the proceedings; or
  • any person from being present when the decision of the court or adjudicating authority is announced;
  • that the name, address or other information likely to reveal the identity of any person concerned or mentioned in the proceedings shall not be publicly disclosed;
  • that information revealing or likely to reveal any place or locality concerned or mentioned in the proceedings shall not be publicly disclosed;
  • that the whole or any specified part of the proceedings shall not be publicly disclosed.

(2) Subject to subsection (3)—

  • a court shall not make an order in terms of subsection (1) in any proceedings;
  • an adjudicating authority shall not make an order in terms of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) in any proceedings for the determination of the existence or extent of any civil right or obligation; unless the court or adjudicating authority, as the case may be, considers it necessary or expedient to do so—

(i) in circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice, in particular where the court or adjudicating authority is satisfied that a witness who is about to give evidence or who has given evidence has reasonable cause to fear that he or any other person is likely to suffer unlawful injury to his person or property as a result of giving such evidence; or (ii) in interlocutory proceedings; or

  • in the interests of public morality; or
  • in the interests of the welfare of persons under the age of eighteen years; or
  • to protect the private lives of persons concerned in the proceedings; or
  • in the case of an order in terms of paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of subsection (1), to protect the safety or private lives of persons related to or connected with any person concerned in the proceedings.

(3) A court or adjudicating authority shall make an order in terms of subsection (1) whenever the court or adjudicating authority is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do so in the interests of defence, public safety, public order or the economic interests of the State.

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