After a successful pilot, family cases will be live-streamed on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, in an effort to increase public confidence in the judicial system.
Cameras in the court will be directed at the judges benches and the bar, and will be presented on a split screen. There is a 90 second delay with a stop feature to allow for recordings to be stopped by the judge or court clerk, as a safeguarding measure.
A statutory instrument — a means to change the law without passing a full act of parliament — in support of the proposals was laid yesterday in the House of Commons, and family cases are expected to stream later this year.
The announcement follows the success of a trial piloted to live stream civil cases in November 2018.
Why the Need for a Popularity Boost?
The court of family appeal appears to be in need of a boost of confidence in the eyes of the public.
The assets publishing service released a report on Litigants in Person in Private Family Law Cases in 2014, detailing suspicions held towards the litigation system by the public. The report noted that “some LIPs (Litigants in Person) were distrustful of lawyers altogether, viewing them as only interested in running up bills and representing a waste of money”.
Another report released by the Judiciary in 2013 stated that “some LIPs cannot afford a solicitor and even distrust lawyers”.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division said:
“We are delighted that the Government has taken forward our initiative of live-streaming the court of appeal civil division.
“Being open about what happens in court is critical for public confidence and understanding of the work which the judiciary undertakes. For centuries our court rooms have been open to the public. Live-streaming brings the public gallery into the 21st century and we are delighted that we can make the difficult and important work of the Court of Appeal Civil Division open to the broadest possible audience”.
These reforms come amidst other changes in litigation that are dragging the Ministry of Justice into the 21st century.
On 16th of January this year, legislation was laid in Parliament to allow television cameras to broadcast from Crown Courts in England and in Wales.
The UK’s court systems have faced a number of significant IT systems issues in recent years, including a major outage in January 2019. This week it was reported that a vital crown court IT system is running on Microsoft’s unsupported Windows XP.