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Information for lawyers

This page provides information for lawyers about preparing written submissions, getting a publication classified, and appealing classification decisions.

If you require assistance with an application or need more information please feel free to contact our Information Unit.

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Preparing a written submission on a publication submitted by a court

In court proceedings, a publication may be referred by the court to the Classification Office under section 29(1) or section 41(3) of the Classification Act. Every person who is party to the proceedings in respect of the referral has the right to make a written submission to the Classification Office.

How court officials submit publications for classification

The Classification Office will send interested parties information on what can be included in a written submission, copies of the classification criteria, a return address, and the closing date for submissions.

A written submission should contain information on why the writer considers the publication should receive a particular classification. Submissions can, for example, discuss things such as artistic or scientific merit of the publication or the purpose for which the publication is intended to be used. 

Applying to have a publication classified (section 13)

Any person can seek the leave of the Chief Censor to submit a publication for classification.

An application for leave should be made using the section 13(1)(c) form below, be accompanied by the appropriate fee, and (if possible) a copy of the publication.

There are different fees depending on the medium of the publication and whether the applicant has a commercial/professional interest in having the publication classified.

It is also possible to apply for fee waivers and urgency fees by attaching a letter to the application explaining why these are being sought.

Where a publication has been submitted under section 13, the following people have the right to make a written submission:

  • The Secretary of Internal Affairs
  • The person/agency that submitted the publication
  • Any person invited to make a submission because of their interest in the publication (being an interest such as owner, maker, distributor or publisher)
  • Other persons who satisfy the Chief Censor that they are likely to be affected by the classification of the publication

If you require additional information on submitting a publication for classification, contact the Information Unit.

Applying for a reconsideration of a classification decision (section 42)

A reconsideration is where the Classification Office re-examines a publication, and either alters or confirms the previous classification decision on the publication.

Applications for reconsideration of a classification decision are usually made for older decisions, ones where more than 3 years has passed since the classification was made.

Where less than 3 years have passed since the decision was made, the applicant will need to show that (in the case of a film), the film has been substantially altered since the decision; or the Chief Censor will need to be satisfied that there are special circumstances justifying a reconsideration of the decision.

The owner, maker, or authorised distributor of a publication can submit the publication for reconsideration direct to the Office. These applicants do not need to seek the leave of the Chief Censor to submit a publication for reconsideration. There are different fees depending on the medium of the publication.

The application should include:

People who are not the owner, maker, or authorised distributor must seek the leave of the Chief Censor before they can submit a publication for classification. There are different fees depending on the medium of the publication and whether the applicant has a commercial/professional interest in having the publication classified.

The application should include:

If you are not sure whether a publication has been classified, or are unsure of the classification date, you can check the NZ Register of Classification Decisions, or contact our Information Unit.

Applying for a review of a classification decision (section 48)

The Board of Review will only review publications that have been recently classified by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. The Board will review the publication against the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993; it will not review the decision made by the Classification Office. The Board will then issue a new decision which replaces the decision of the Classification Office.

The following people have an automatic right to apply for a publication's review by the Board:

  • The person who submitted the publication to the Classification Office
  • The Film and Video Labelling Body
  • Any party to court proceedings (if a publication has been referred to the Classification Office by a court)
  • The owner, maker, publisher, or authorised distributer of the publication

If you have an automatic right to apply for a review, contact the Secretary of Internal Affairs. The application must be received within 30 working days of the date of registration of the decision in the NZ Register of Classification Decisions. The register page of each publication is available as a PDF from the NZ Register of Classification Decisions.

NZ Register of Classification Decisions

An application to the Board of Review should include:

  • A copy of the publication you want to have reviewed
  • A submission form and the appropriate fee (available from Internal Affairs)

You can contact the Board of Review via email at info@dia.govt.nz

A member of the public can apply for a review but must first seek the leave of the Secretary of Internal Affairs. Applications for leave must be lodged within 20 working days of the date of registration of the decision. The register page of each publication is available as a PDF from the NZ Register of Classification Decisions.

NZ Register of Classification Decisions

Once leave is granted the applicant has 5 working days from the date leave is granted, or 30 working days from when the decision was registered (whichever date is the later) to submit their request to the Film and Literature Board of Review.

To seek leave, contact the Secretary of Internal Affairs at the Department of Internal Affairs and include:

  • A copy of the publication to be reviewed (if possible)
  • A submission form and the correct fee (available from the Department of Internal Affairs)

For more information contact the Board of Review at info@dia.govt.nz

Application forms to seek the leave of the Secretary and copies of these guidelines are available from the Secretary of the Board of Review, upon request (ph: 04 495 7200).