May I tweet, M’lud?

Tweets and text messages from inside a courtroom may be permitted after the UK’s most senior judge approved the use of digital communication technology, which means that reporters and members of the public will even be able to sit in court and surf the internet on their laptops – as long as they are quiet about it.

The aptly named judge, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, has issued guidance which allows modern technology to be used in the country’s courts despite concerns that it could put some criminal trials at risk. However, the use of Twitter and other digital technology will still require the approval of the individual judge in each case who will reserve the right to refuse if there are concerns over justice and a fair trial.

Judges may also decide to restrict its use to reporters and not those in the public gallery.

Lord Judge agreed that the greatest risk to the proper administration of justice was in criminal trials where witnesses outside the courtroom could find out what is being said inside before being called to give evidence.

There is actually no statutory prohibition on the use of live text-based communications in open court.

According to Lord Judge:

When considering, either on its own motion, or following a formal application or informal request, whether to permit live text-based communications, and if so by whom, the paramount question will be whether the application may interfere with the proper administration of justice.

He also added:

The most obvious purpose of permitting the use of live, text-based communications would be to enable the media to produce fair and accurate reports of the proceedings

The last point would make a nice change.

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