Call to televise top court cases

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England and Wales’s top civil judge has called for major court cases to be televised to boost the public’s confidence in the justice system. Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, urged for careful consideration over a move which could help people become more involved, in a more transparent system. He said judges would retain full broadcast veto rights, while warning that televising witnesses or criminal trials may be unwise. Although the Supreme Court already televises judgments, Lord Neuberger said: “From a public interest perspective might there not be an argument now for its hearings, and some hearings of the Court of Appeal, being televised on some equivalent of the Parliament Channel, or via the BBC iPlayer. “If broadcasting of court proceedings does go ahead, I think it would be right to make two points, even at this tentative stage. First, the judge or judges hearing the case concerned would have to have full rights of veto over what could be broadcast; secondly, I would be very chary indeed about the notion of witness actions or criminal trials being broadcast – in each case for obvious reasons.”

Sarah Jackson, Senior Solicitor in IBB’s Commercial Dispute Resolution team, comments:

“As the Courts have now agreed that subject to permission Twitter feeds can be broadcast during the hearing, it is only a matter of time before the Courts move to televise some hearings. Whilst in principle this should be welcomed as a move to increase transparency we would echo Lord Neuberger’s concerns that it would have to be implemented very carefully to avoid any prejudice to the parties to the litigation. As the majority of hearings are open to the public in any event, televising the hearing will just ensure that a wider audience could view the process as compared to the small minority who can fit into a public gallery.”