Friday 17 November 2017

Only media may be allowed to tweet from court

The use of social media in courtrooms, particularly during ‘live’ trials, is one that has attracted controversy in recent months. Stock photo: Getty/NurPhoto
The use of social media in courtrooms, particularly during ‘live’ trials, is one that has attracted controversy in recent months. Stock photo: Getty/NurPhoto
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Sending tweets on social media live from courtrooms could soon be banned, except in the case of accredited members of the media.

A draft discussion paper on guidelines on the use of social media was first circulated to the presidents of all the courts here in recent months, and an in-depth consultation process is being embarked upon.

The use of social media in courtrooms, particularly during 'live' trials, is one that has attracted controversy in recent months.

A spokesperson for the Courts Service told the Irish Independent: "The drafting of guidelines and a series of discussions are ongoing in relation to the use of social media in courtrooms.

"This has involved the presidents of the various courts. In the near future we will extend discussions to consult with the various professional bodies, other courts users, and nominated representatives of the media," he added.

At this point, it is unclear when the final recommendations will be implemented within the Courts Service.

An informed source said it is likely that any form of instant messaging from the courtroom may be banned, except for accredited members of the media who will work to guidelines.

These guidelines could determine what journalists should and shouldn't tweet, and at what stage.

They could be introduced by way of a practice direction, which complements the rules of court. They are issued to inform parties what the court expects of them in respect of the practice and procedure of the courts.

However, a change to the rules of court would take more time and could take a number of months, according to the informed source.

Last July, the then-chief justice Susan Denham revealed that the guidelines were to be developed, regarding the "who, when and what" of using social media in courtrooms.

Irish Independent

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