Category: Technology


Permission to tweet in court to be decided on case by case basis

20 December 2010 by

The Lord Chief Justice has issued interim guidance on the use of live text-based forms of communication, including Twitter, from court for the purpose of fair and accurate reporting.

For the time being, it will be possible to apply to a judge for permission to turn on one’s mobile phone or computer in order to tweet. Judges must consider whether the application “may interfere with the proper administration of justice“. The most obvious purpose for permitting the use of live, text-based communications “would be to enable the media to produce fair and accurate reports of the proceedings.”

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Should justice be televised?

6 December 2010 by

The head of Sky News has argued in a new Guardian article that justice must be televised as allowing TV cameras in court would help restore public faith in criminal proceedings.

Sky news has been campaigning for TV cameras to be allowed in court for the past year. John Ryley argues that the upcoming prosecutions of 5 men accused of abusing the parliamentary expenses system should be televised as the judge in the case has said the matter is “of intense public interest”. Televising proceedings would help restore the loss of confidence in parliament and politics and ensure that judges who are seen are “out of touch” and “liberal” need not escape the spotlight.

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There should be more QC on our TV

1 December 2010 by

When the UK supreme court opened for business just over a year ago one of its most exciting innovations was that, for the first time in the UK, hearings would be filmed and recordings made available to broadcasters.

The change followed 20 years of campaigning and preparation, and was heralded as a turning point in the history of our legal system.

So, one year on, are our TV schedules flooded with live feeds of cases of great social importance? Hardly. In fact, Baroness Hale, one of the court’s 11 justices, recently said that although the recordings are available to the media upon request, “they don’t often ask.”

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Justice’s hidden backbone – a tribute to BAILII

18 November 2010 by

By all accounts, it has been a gloomy year for access to justice. The legal aid budget is to be reduced by £350m and state assistance has effectively disappeared in non-criminal cases. The overall justice budget, which is already low by international standards, is to be cut by a further 23%. But believe it or not, there may be reasons to be cheerful.

In the virtual world, legal blogs are becoming an established voice in the UK legal community and the flourishing blogosphere has given the public a lively, accessible and most importantly free new way of engaging with the law. With legal aid becoming scarcer and Citizens Advice Bureaus losing their funding, free information services such can be the last resort for those who seek legal help without having to pay for a lawyer.

But none of these services would exist without their hidden backbone: BAILII. To that end, when Legal Week published its excellent review of legal blogging  last month, the failure to mention BAILII caused a min-revolution from a gaggle of legal bloggers in the comments section.

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E-disclosure rules finally enter the 1990s

1 October 2010 by


Welcome to court

New rules on the disclosure of electronic documents came into force on 1 October. This many not sound as exciting as the trendy new Equality Act 2010, which has also begun operating, but the new rules may be of great significance to the justice system.

A new section has been added to the Civil Procedure Rules providing guidance on the disclosure of electronic documents.

This sounds perfectly sensible. What is surprising is how long it has taken for this much needed guidance to reach the justice system. According to the Ministry of Justice the aim of the new rules is “to focus the parties on the sources of electronic material and give guidance to those with less experience of dealing which such issues.”


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Google steps up pressure on Government censorship

22 April 2010 by

Google have announced the launch of a new Government Requests tool, which according to the Official Google Blog aims to “give people information about the requests for user data or content removal we receive from government agencies around the world.”

According to the tool, the UK currently ranks number 2 in Europe for information removal requests, behind Germany, and 3rd in the world for data requests, behind the US and Brazil.

It appears that the internet search company, whose unofficial corporate motto is “Don’t be Evil“, is attempting to make up for recent public controversies over censorship in countries where rights to freedom of information and expression are lacking. Google has had a particularly rocky relationship with China, who insisted that certain sites were blocked from Google search. After public pressure and a number of public confrontations, Google have recently moved operations to Hong Kong and shut down the search service completely.

Yesterday’s announcement begins by quoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is similar to the European Convention on Human Rights. It says:

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High Court defends freedom of expression for news websites

12 April 2010 by

SAMUEL KINGSFORD BUDU v THE BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION [2010] EWHC 616 (QB), 23 March 2010

Read judgment

A claim for libel in respect of three articles in a news website’s archive has been struck out in the Hight Court by Mrs Justice Sharp. When read in context, the articles were incapable of bearing the alleged defamatory meaning, the publisher had attached Loutchansky notices to them, and it would be a disproportionate interference with the publisher’s rights under ECHR Article 10 to allow the claim to proceed where it had been brought after four years had passed since the publication of the articles.

Summary

The Claimant brought proceedings in respect of three archived articles published by the BBC in mid 2004. They related to the decision of Cambridgeshire Constabulary to withdraw an oral job offer made to the Claimant after subsequently investigating the legality of his immigration status. Within weeks of first being published, the articles became accessible only in the archive, via search engines. The action related to the articles in the archive and the related Google snippets.

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Is cutting off a person’s internet a breach of their human rights?

9 April 2010 by

The Law Society of Scotland have sounded the alarm in relation to new Government powers to block an individual’s internet access, and argue that this is likely to amount to a breach of their Human Rights.

The Digital Economy Bill, which has now passed through Parliament and has royal assent, has attracted wide attention in the past few days for a number of reasons. Many have been concerned at the apparent lack of debate in relation to the wide-ranging Bill.

However, a pressing concern amongst internet users has been the proposed new powers for the Government to block an individual’s internet access as a punishment for internet piracy.

The Law Society of Scotland consider that blocking an individual’s internet access would be breach their human rights. They are concerned in particular with the lack of a requirement for a court order before access is cut off, which would amount to a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention. Jim McLean, convener of the Society’s Intellectual Property Committee says:

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