Actor Amber Heard in court. Photo / AP


The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial has captured the world’s attention as a private relationship in the public eye. The live streaming of the court proceedings has brought intense media interest.

Publication restrictions in the Family Court

I have had a number of inquiries from concerned clients about whether their own private matters can be made public in the New Zealand Family Court.

Alleged family violence cases in New Zealand are normally heard in the Family Court, with strong publication restrictions. Family violence allegations and exchanges are kept private and not reported in the media.

The Family Court Act 1980 also states that there are publication restrictions where matters relate to vulnerable people or people under the age of 18. It sets out a very wide prohibition on the publication of proceedings in the Family Court, which applies to any party to the proceedings.

An individual can receive a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding $2000 if they breach a publication restriction.

Defamation cases in New Zealand

Defamation is when an untrue or misleading statement made publicly (either in writing or spoken) about a person or organisation harms their reputation. Whether a particular statement is considered defamatory is decided in the court.

Continue reading this article on the NZ Herald.