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The Film and Literature Board of Review


The Film and Literature Board of Review is the body that reviews publications that have been classified by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. It is an independent body carrying out quasi-judicial functions. Anyone seeking a review of a publication must do so within 30 working days of publication of the List of Decisions in which the classification appears.

The Classification Office maintains a Register of Classification Decisions. This records all of the classification decisions made by that Office, as well as the decisions of the Board. This Register is by law the official repository of classification records. If you want to know the classification of any publication you should contact the Classification Office. Each month the Classification Office also releases a listing of all new classification decisions in its List of Decisions, to which anyone with an interest may subscribe.

The Department of Internal Affairs provides administrative and support services to the Board.

The nine members of the Board are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Minister of Internal Affairs, acting with the concurrence of the Minister of Women's Affairs and the Minister of Justice. One member of the Board is appointed as President. The current President is Claudia Elliott, a Barrister and Solicitor of Rotorua. The President and other members of the Board are part-time and meet according to need.

As a body carrying out quasi-judicial functions, the Board does not comment on its decisions or its decision-making process. Requests for information about the Board and its activities can be made to The Secretary (Owen Davie), Film and Literature Board of Review, PO Box 805 Wellington, ph (04) 495 9379. Media inquiries can be directed to the Department of Internal Affairs Communications Manager: ph 495 9460 or 0274 575 676.

Functions of the Board of Review:

The function of the Film and Literature Board of Review is set out in section 92 of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993):
  • To review the classification of any publication referred by the courts or submitted to the Board following classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification
A "publication" includes, but is not limited to, any film, video recording, DVD, CD Rom, computer image, book, magazine, newspaper, photograph or sound recording.

The Board conducts the review of a publication by way of re-examination without regard to the decision of the Classification Office.

The President of the Board also has the power, under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act, to make a decision on any application for an interim restriction order in respect of any publication referred or submitted to the Board. The purpose of an interim restriction order is to prevent a publication being made available to the public prior to the Board issuing its decision.

Who may apply for a review?
  • The Secretary of Internal Affairs, the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Customs Service, the Film and Video Labelling Body, the owner, maker, publisher or authorised distributor of the publication, and any party to a court proceeding where the publication has been referred by a court, may apply for a review as of right.
  • In addition, the Secretary for Internal Affairs may grant leave to any other person to apply to the Board for review of any publication. Link here to the guidelines that the Department of Internal Affairs uses to assist in making the decision to grant or refuse leave to apply for a review of the classification of a publication.
  • The decisions of the Board of Review are public documents and are published on this website (link below).

Decisions of the Secretary for Internal Affairs on Granting Leave
Below is a link to the Department of Internal Affairs' decisions to grant or refuse leave to apply to the Film and Literature Board of Review for a review of the classification of a publication.
(Note: Decisions are being added to the site as they are processed for web publication.)

Decisions of the Board of Review

Below is a link to the full record of decisions of the Film and Literature Board of Review. These decisions are formal legal documents of a semi-judicial body. For this reason they must be made available in full. They do not contain images or examples of pornography. In descriptions of the material being assessed the Board needs to use language used in the material and needs to describe some images in general terms. It may not be appropriate for young people to access this material without adult guidance. Teachers and others encouraging use of this site for students doing projects on censorship are advised to familiarise themselves with the material first, before directing students towards it.

(Note: Decisions are being added to the site as they are processed for web publication.)

Relevant Court Decisions
Below is a link to the record of relevant Court Decisions. An appeal against a decision of the Film and Literature Board of Review may be made to the High Court. The scope of any such appeal is limited to consideration of points of law. If the High Court allows the appeal, the Court will refer the publication back to the Board a new decision. If the High Court dismisses the appeal, the appellant may appeal to the Court of Appeal on points of law. The Court of Appeal may allow the appeal, in which case the Court will refer the publication back to the Board for reconsideration. If the Court of Appeal dismisses the appeal, the matter is normally at an end.

Once the Board has reconsidered a publication sent back to it by a Court and made its decision, that decision may in turn again be appealed to the High Court. The process outlined above will then again come into effect until the matter is at an end.
(Note: Decisions are being added to the site as they are processed for web publication.)

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Last updated: 18/11/2003