NMA Welcomes New Guidance To Reporting Restrictions In The Courts

The News Media Association has welcomed the publication of the fourth edition of the ‘Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts’ guide which makes extensive revisions to the previous edition in order to promote open justice and reporting criminal court proceedings.

The NMA, Society of Editors and Media Lawyers Association have worked with Guy Vassall-Adams KC, Tim James-Matthews of Counsel and the judiciary to distil and explain the relevant legal provisions and principles so they are clearly understood and properly applied in practice in the updated Guidance.

Writing the foreword, Lord Burnett of Maldon, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, said: “It is a central principle of criminal justice that the court sits in public so that the proceedings can be observed by members of the public and reported on by the media.

“Transparency improves the quality of justice, enhances public understanding of the process, and bolsters public confidence in the justice system. Media reporting is critical to all these public interest functions.”

“There are occasions, however when it is necessary to make an exception to these principles, to protect the rights of children or the identities of some adult complainants for example. Such issues often arise at short notice and the law relating to the decisions that have to be made can be complex.”

NMA director of legal Sayra Tekin said: “We welcomed the opportunity to work with experienced colleagues across the media law sector and the judiciary to improve this important Guidance for journalists and court staff.

“The Guidance will promote and strengthen open justice by helping to ensure that fair, accurate and contemporaneous media reporting of proceedings is not be prevented by any action of the court unless there are exceptional circumstances laid down in law. The Guidance provides clarity on when the circumstances are sufficiently exceptional so that the media can better discharge its democratic function to act as the eyes and ears of the public in court.”

The Guidance can be seen here.