Reality TV: Court of Appeal permits broadcasting of proceedings

The Court of Appeal (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2013 (the ‘Order’) came into force on 31 October 2013, permitting the filming and broadcast of certain proceedings in the Court of Appeal for the first time since 1925. The partial lifting of the ban on cameras in courtrooms is intended to widen public access to the court process and provide greater understanding of the way proceedings work in the Court of Appeal.

As of yesterday, cameras will be permitted to record and broadcast proceedings in the Court of Appeal. With the exception of the Supreme Court, filming in courts has been banned since the Criminal Justice Act 1925.

While cameras currently remain barred from Crown and magistrates' courts, this move is seen as an important landmark in allowing greater journalistic and public access to court proceedings, following a lengthy campaign by several broadcasters and the press.

Facilities are available for live broadcasting in 5 courtrooms at the Royal Courts of Justice and 13 further courtrooms are equipped to make recordings, although only one courtroom will be covered each day.

Arguments by legal representatives and the comments, summing up and decisions by judges (and, in criminal cases, the judge's remarks on sentencing) may be shown. Defendants, witnesses and victims will not be filmed.

In addition, the Order excludes the filming or recording of certain appeals, for example family proceedings and the court's permission is required to allow broadcasts of certain appeals in criminal proceedings. Where proceedings involve appeals against conviction, which might result in a re-trial, footage may only be broadcast once proceedings have been concluded.

As a safeguard to protect witnesses and victims or to cater for necessary restrictions (ie contempt of court or broadcasting rules), the system will also include a 70-second time-delay function.

Use of court footage is restricted to news and current affairs only and must not be used by broadcasters for entertainment, satire or commercial advertising.

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