UK’s Highest Court Gives Tweets a Voice: Green Lights Twitter from inside the Supreme Court

UK’s Highest Court Gives Tweets a Voice: Green Lights Twitter from inside the Supreme Court

"A little bird told me." It's an oldie, but it has new life in the UK, particularly in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom today published guidance on its practice relating to the use of "live text based communications" (i.e. Tweeting), green lighting public communications concerning courtroom events. In issuing the guidance, the Justices noted that cases before the Supreme Court do not involve interaction with witnesses or jurors and that there is rarely any reason why what is said in court should not be placed immediately in the public domain.

Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court, noted that communications technology is beneficial in that regular updates can be shared with people outside the court, in real time. This, in turn, enhances public interest in the progress of a case and keeps those who are interested better informed.

 "We are fortunate," Lord Phillips said, "that by the time a case reaches the Supreme Court there is very seldom any reason for any degree of confidentiality, so that questions about what should and should not be shared with those outside the courtroom do not usually arise. This means that we can offer a green light to tweeting and other forms of communication, as long as this does not disrupt the smooth running of the court."

There are exceptions. Tweeting will be prohibited in cases where formal reporting restrictions are in place, where a child's welfare is involved, and where publications might prejudice a pending jury trial. In these events, posted notices will inform attendees of the restrictions.  

This guidance is restricted to the Supreme Court because of its unique role as the highest appellate court. In other courts, different considerations apply.


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  • 02-17-2011

This is hilarious! :)