Flashcards in Contempt Deck (30):
Contempt of Court Act 1981 says...
No material should be published when a case is active
which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice or impediment to the case
What counts as publication?
- Broadcast Material
- Written/printed material
- anything said in a speech/play/concert
What does contempt of court mean?
Broad term denoting misconduct which deliberately/unintentionally interferes with justice process OR carries a risk of such interference (includes acts of disrespect in court)
Disrespect in court
Magistrates and judges have power to punish immediately contempt which 'is in face of the court' i.e. in the courtroom or courtbuiling
For minor acts, person given chance to purge (apologise)
If act more serious e.g. threatening a witness person could be jailed/fined that same day
Who can take contempt proceedings against an organisation?
1. A crown court judge
2. A judge higher than a crown court judge
3. The Attorney General
4. Someone with the attorney general's consent
The Strict Liability Rule
What is published may give rise to contempt
regardless of intent of publisher
or the effect of what was published
All about RISK, doesn't matter if material did not cause any prejudice.
At what point is a case active?
- Issue of an arrest warrant
- Issue of summons
- Oral charge/service of written charge
What can be reported in an active case?
- Common ground (i.e. facts that cannot be disputed)
- Name of arrested suspect
- Name of alleged victim
- Reference to suspects/defendants address
- Injuries suffered by a victim who survives an attack
- Where a body is found
*Risk when publishing evidence that it could become inadmissible/extraneous so could prejudice a jury if not featured in a trial
'Helping with inquires'
Journalists must check with police if they say someone is 'helping with inquiries'
If they have been arrested, then case is active
Stopping people coming forward as witnesses
Influence jury with risk of changing their opinion
When does the risk of contempt end?
Risk ends when case is no longer active:
When arrested person is released without charge
or no arrest made 12 months after issue of warrant
or if case is discontinued
or if defendant acquitted
or court rules defendant unfit to be tried/ to plead
When is a civil case active?
Civil case is active when the date for the case to be heard is fixed.
Power of the court to postpone reporting on a case
Court has power to order postponement of reporting on an entire case/any part of it where this appears necessary for avoiding substantial risk of prejudice to administration of justice in that case or any other that is pending/imminent.
Juries Act 1974 in Section 20D
Contempt of Court to seek or disclose
information about statements made, opinions expressed, arguments advanced or votes cast
by members of a jury
in the course of its deliberations
Section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981
Contempt to use in court a tape recorder or any other audio recording device or to take one into court for use unless court permits it. Only allowed if there is 'reasonable need' for such use.
Criminal Justice Act 1925
It is illegal to take any photograph or to film, or make any portrait or sketch in court with a view to publication.
*Artists can make sketches outside the courtroom.
*Also illegal to do any of above of a person while they are entering or leaving the court or its precincts
*Publication of any such photo also an offence (regardless of whether taken photo or not.)
*Act does not define what precincts are. This has caused practical difficulties of interpretation.
Section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981
If a court allows a name, or other matter
to be withheld from the public during its proceedings
the court may prohibit indefinitely
the publication of that name or matter
in connections with the proceedings
(Typically made in cases of blackmail to protect identity of alleged victim or in cases of national security.)
Court can only implement this anonymity is risk is real and immediate. Reporter can ask for proof this is the case.
Invalid Usage of Section 11 Orders
Section 11 orders should only be used where administration of justice would otherwise be frustrated/rendered impracticable.
Not valid if there has been no previous decision by court to stop name or matter being mentioned in open court.
Cannot be used for the 'comfort and feelings of defendants'. (Est in R v Evesham Justices 1988)
No such thing as an anonymous magistrate (R v Felixstowe Justices ex p Leigh 1987)
Section 46 Orders: Lifetime anonymity for adult witnesses
Court must rule witness is in fear or distress about being identified in the media/to the public as a witness
AND that quality of witness' evidence/level of co-operation is therefore diminished if identified by the media
Order forbids publication of anything likely to identify witness including: name, address, school, work, still/moving picture
Revoking Section 46 orders
Court which made the order or higher court can lift anonymity or relax it to some extent
if court satisfied it is necessary in the interests of justice
OR court satisfied restriction imposes substantial/unreasonable restriction on reporting of proceedings AND it is in the public interest to remove restriction.
Witness can waiver with written consent. Consent not valid if to gain it anyone interfered with their 'peace and discomfort'.
When can the media challenge a Section 46 order?
Can challenge if made with insufficient justification or invalidity
Some grounds to challenge:
- Is witness really in fear/distress about testifying
- Does the Section 46 order serve much purpose
- Is the person due to testify as a witness
Article 10 of the ECHR
Guarantees freedom of expression and to receive and impart information.
Challenging the court
1. Approach a court clerk in person by reporter/letter to the editor - can be asked to provide order in written form, specify in writing why they made it, specify what section of what act of parliament justifies the order
2. Judicial Review where magistrates' decisions can be challenged by making an application to high court judge for judicial review
Section 159 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988
Can challenge restrictive orders made by Crown court judge. Challenge would be heard by higher court: Court of Appeal
*May not happen quickly, court case disputed could be over
*Media organisation would have to pay lawyers and legal fees even if successful
*Appeal can only be made in writing
Open Justice: When does common law prevent the media attending attending cases involving adult defendants?
When their presence would frustrate the process of justice e.g. a woman cannot be persuaded to give evidence of intimate sexual matters in presence of strangers.
When unchecked publicity would defeat the whole object of proceedings e.g. security of state requires secrecy to stop publication of state secrets.
When court exercises parental role to protect interests of vulnerable e.g. children/mentally ill
Section 121 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980
Magistrates must sit in open court when trying a case in adult court.
Journalists' rights to information
Rule 5.8 Criminal Procedure Rules say anyone should normally be supplied with the following info about any ongoing criminal case or one in which the verdict < 6 months ago:
- date of any public hearing
- each alleged offence
- any plea entered
- court's decision on bail and sending of case to another court
- whether case under appeal
- outcome of any trial/appeal
- identities of prosecutor/defendant/lawyers and lawyers' addresses
- identities of judge
Requests may be made orally with no reason needed.
If case older, requests need to be written and reason may be needed.
Part 5B of the Criminal Practice Directions
Opening notes, written submissions, skeleton arguments, used by council in criminal courts should normally be given to journalists who want them to report cases contemporaneously.
Other docs can also be provided at discretion of court.