Supreme Court allows the use of Twitter

04 FEB 2011

Supreme Court allows TwitterThe Supreme Court has published guidance on its practice relating to the use of "live text based communications" in the courtroom.

The Justices felt that because cases before the Supreme Court do not involve interaction with witnesses or jurors, and because there is rarely any reason why what is said in court should not be placed immediately in the public domain, they are content with legal teams, journalists and members of the public communicating to the outside word what is happening in the courtroom.

Important exceptions include cases where there are formal reporting restrictions in place, family cases involving the welfare of a child, and cases where publication of proceedings might prejudice a pending jury trial. Those attending such cases will be informed by notices placed at the doors of the courtroom that restrictions are in place.

Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court, said: "The rapid development of communications technology brings with it both opportunities and challenges for the justice system. An undoubted benefit is that regular updates can be shared with many people outside the court, in real time, which can enhance public interest in the progress of a case and keep those who are interested better informed.

"We are fortunate that, by the time a case reaches the Supreme Court there is very seldom any reason for any degree of confidentiality, so that questions about what should and should not be shared with those outside the courtroom do not usually arise. This means that we can offer a green light to tweeting and other forms of communication, as long as this does not disrupt the smooth running of the court."

The decision follows the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales ruling that tweeting from court would be allowed as long as the judge believed it would not interfere with the administration of justice.

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