Law, Justice and Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘master of the rolls’

Seeing through the super injunction frenzy

In Journalism, Law on May 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm

By Judith Townend

Amid all the excitement, there are some important legal questions to ask about super injunctions and anonymous privacy injunctions.

Lord Neuberger’s committee report released on Friday 20 May goes some way to provide some clarification, in terms of definitions, procedure and identifying uncertainties.

But the debate is far from over, in the newspapers (see left), Parliament and the Courts.

Latest developments raise very interesting questions about Parliamentary Privilege, Contempt, Scottish law and internet regulation.

My commentary for the Guardian argues that the report cuts through some of the media excitement and hysteria, even if it doesn’t answer all the questions. Here’s an extract:

Keeping a level head in response to screams about superinjunctions does not mean there is no need to scrutinise the secrecy and anonymity of privacy cases. The public and the media need to know what type of cases are taking place in the courts to assure everyone that judges are properly upholding the right to freedom of expression and the principle of open justice.

In that sense, the hysteria of recent months was unsurprising. People simply didn’t know the extent of the superinjunction problem. A centralised secure database, as now recommended by the committee, would help assuage those concerns.

Of course, justice sometimes requires a degree of secrecy, but the media must know why. It was reassuring, then, to hear Neuberger say: “… when it [secrecy] is ordered, the facts of the case and the reason for secrecy should be explained, as far as possible, in an openly available judgment”.

The media and public need to know what the orders are – as was forbidden in the case of Trafigura – and the committee’s recommendations emphasise the important balance between freedom of expression and open justice, and an individual’s right to confidentiality and privacy.

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Open justice: building on Lord Neuberger’s speech

In Events, Journalism, Law on March 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

By Judith Townend

A number of bloggers have taken up the issue of digital open justice, following a speech by the Master of the Rolls last week. The UK Human Rights Blog has a round-up here, in which barrister Adam Wagner asks:

But what comes next? In order to push forward the open justice agenda, ideas will have to be practically worked through, and funded. Please use the comments section of this post to let us know what you think, what you make of the ideas in Neuberger’s speech and whether you have any ones of your own.

Here’s an extract of a piece I wrote for Index on Censorship:

It was heartening to hear the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, discuss how best to achieve “public confidence in the justice system, transparency and engagement” last week.

His call for legal clarity and accessibility to UK courts should be welcomed and built upon by advocates of free expression.

‘Open Justice Unbound’, Lord Neuberger’s Judicial Studies Board Annual Lecture 2011, was – as the UK  Supreme Court Blog put it – “a vision for open justice in the 21st century”.

For the time being, however, it’s a vision and there is still much that can be done to open up the UK’s courts online.

Lord Neuberger addressed pertinent digital points in his speech, which covered a range issues: the accessibility and format of judgments, super injunctions and accurate court reporting.

Read in full here