Top judge approves Twitter use in courts

The Lord Chief Justice has given provisional approval of Twitter and other text-based apps to be used in court to report proceedings.

Top judge approves Twitter use in courts

Although the guidance is subject to a a future consultation, Lord Judge said journalists would be able to apply for permission to use the technology on a case-by-case basis.

“There is no statutory prohibition on the use of live text-based communications in open court. But before such use is permitted, the court must be satisfied that its use does not pose a danger of interference to the proper administration of justice in the individual case,” said Judge’s guidance.

“Subject to this consideration, the use of an unobtrusive, hand-held, virtually silent piece of modern equipment for the purposes of simultaneous reporting of proceedings to the outside world as they unfold in court is generally unlikely to interfere with the proper administration of justice.”

While the ruling doesn’t specifically rule out members of public using Twitter or similar services, the judge saw the primary justification as informing the public.

However, media organisation would face restrictions in cases where their tweets might influence the case, such as in a criminal case where witnesses might by swayed by hearing what was happening during court sessions which they were not attending.

“The judge has an overriding responsibility to ensure that proceedings are conducted consistently with the proper administration of justice, and so as to avoid any improper interference with its processes,” the guidance said.

The issue was most recently raised in bail hearings for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, where the first judge allowed tweeting, but the appeals judge did not.

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