It has just been announced that the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales has ruled that Twitter will now be allowed in courtrooms as long as it doesn’t interfere with the administration of justice.
BBC News reports that judges will be able to decide on a case by case basis, making sure messages sent via the service would not conflict with the trial and outcomes of hearings.
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The recent bail hearing for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange prompted the ruling, a case where journalists were allowed to tweet live updates from the hearing, before having permission denied for Assange’s appeal hearing two days later.
Journalists will now people able to use mobile, e-mail, social media networks via internet-enabled laptops and smartphones, to report on cases from today but a review will be conducted. The recording of sound and taking of images is still illegal however.
Lord Justice Judge’s ruling said:
“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 unlikely to interfere with the proper administration of justice.”
It’s a major step towards opening the legal process to the public, a process that is somewhat dated in the UK. Television broadcasts are permitted in US courts and whilst this is a long way off in the UK, the ruling allowing electronic updates in courtrooms demonstrates a shift in modernising the British legal system.