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Twitter guidance will be 'revisited and revisited again', Lord Judge predicts

29 March 2011

Guidance on the use of Twitter in the courts will need to be “revisited and revisited again”, the Lord Chief Justice has said.

Speaking at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem last night, Lord Judge said as fast as judges kept up with developments in technology, “developments themselves will be expanding”.

He went on: “Ultimately, of course, we must be doing justice in the courts, and we must be doing open justice.

“My fervent hope is that the advance of new technology will make it easier for the media to be ‘present’ in court, and that the present trend for fewer and fewer reporters in every court will come to an end, or, at any rate, that court proceedings will be reported.”

Lord Judge launched a consultation on the use of Twitter, email and text messages by journalists in court last month. One requirement would be for ‘fair and accurate’ reporting.

The Supreme Court already permits the use of live, text-based communication during its hearings by journalists, lawyers and the public.

Lord Judge also referred to the inquiry into the use of super injunctions by Lord Neuberger’s committee, which is due to deliver its report by the end of April.

“Of course, none of these arrangements and none of the discussions can alter existing legal principles,” Lord Judge said.

“They have no legislative authority. And if anyone thought that the existing law could be suspended or dispensed with, they simply have to remember the fate of our King James II who was thrown out for exercising the ‘pretended power’ to do so.

“But more often than not what is required is sensible recognition that without the judiciary or the media giving up one fraction of their necessary independences of each other, they can nevertheless examine problems of importance to one or other of them, or indeed to both of them, and no longer pretend, as I think was sometimes pretended not so very long ago, that these problems do not exist or hope that they will somehow blow away in some gentle breeze.”

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