New figures reveal a fall in the number of people keeping their name from the public.

The number of permanent name suppression orders issued by the courts has halved in the past five years. In 2011, 640 people received permanent suppression for criminal matters in the district and high courts. The next year, the number dropped to 407 and has slid even further to 317 in 2015. Over the same five-year period, the number of people appearing in court has fallen by about 25 per cent, according to information from the Ministry of Justice.

The decline follows a law change in 2012 making it harder to get name suppression. The old "undue hardship" test was replaced with a clause saying a person must be able to demonstrate "extreme hardship" to avoid being named. The new law also included a specific instruction that being well known wasn't a reason in itself for suppression, after a public outcry around several high-profile public figures appearing in the dock. One of the cases was a high-profile comedian whose name was kept secret after he was convicted of performing a sex act on his 4-year-old daughter.

Auckland University associate law professor Bill Hodge said the new law appeared to be working and the burden of proof had shifted to the defence.


Court numbers

• 640 suppression orders in 2011

• 106,607 court appearances in 2011

• 317 suppression orders in 2015

• 76,593 appearances in 2015