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UK supreme court allows Twitter during hearings

world Updated: Feb 04, 2011 01:48 IST
Britain's Supreme Court

Britain's Supreme Court has allowed the use of Twitter during hearings, but conditions continue to apply to other courts due to legal reasons.

According to guidance issued for journalists, the Supreme Court said it was "content" that journalists, the public and legal teams can use "live text-based communications" in courtrooms.

Live text-based forms of communication, such as e-mails and microblogging via social media platforms like Twitter, are to be allowed in the court because there is rarely any reason why what is said should not be placed immediately in the public domain.

Lord Phillips, president of the Supreme Court, said the "rapid development" of communications technology brought with it "both opportunities and challenges for the justice system".

"An undoubted benefit is that regular updates can be shared with many people outside the court, in real time, which can enhance public interest in the progress of a case and keep those who are interested better informed," he said.

"We are fortunate 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."

He said this meant that text communications could be permitted, as long as the "smooth running of the court" was not disrupted.

However, "important exceptions" remained, such as cases where there are formal reporting restrictions in place, family cases involving the welfare of a child, and cases where publication of proceedings might prejudice a pending jury trial.