Journalists no longer need to need to make applications to a judge to tweet from court, after the UK’s leading judge handed down new advice on the use of laptops and hand-held devices.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, published interim guidance last year which said journalists had to apply to use electronic devices to send text form a court.
The new guidance makes clear that ‘there is no longer any need for representatives of the media/legal commentators to make an application to use text-based devices to communicate from court”.
Members of the public, however, will still have to make an application.
The guidance also notes that the judge ‘always retains full discretion to prohibit live, text based communications from court, in the interests of justice”.
‘A fundamental aspect of the proper administration of justice is open justice. Fair, accurate and, where possible, immediate reporting of court proceedings forms part of that principle,’said Lord Judge.
Today’s guidance said: ‘The ‘paramount question’ for the judge in deciding whether to allow live text-based communications is whether it may interfere with the administration of justice.
The danger is likely to be at its most acute in the context of criminal trials, eg where witnesses who are out of court may be informed of what has already happened in court and so coached or briefed before they then give evidence or where legal discussions in the absence of the jury may appear on the internet and be seen by jury members.
‘The guidance emphasises that anyone using electronic text is strictly bound by the existing restrictions on reporting court proceedings, under the Contempt of Court Act 1981.
‘Photography in court remains strictly forbidden under the Criminal Justice Act 1925.”