In Focus – The Rt. Hon Sir James Munby, President Of The Family Division

Historic court proceedings now available to view online

Judicial proceedings are now accessible to the public via a video archive launched by the Supreme Court.  The ‘video on demand’ initiative seeks to increase transparency in the court system and has been welcomed by the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger. He said the new service would provide a unique learning tool for the legal profession, law students, and for members of the public.

The new online archive service is intended to improve public understanding of the legal process, and of the UK justice system. It is also thought likely to save money and reduce carbon footprint by cutting the costs related to the production of hard copy transcripts.

Sir James Munby
Sir James Munby

Many more legal cases will be published online in the future, according to the head of the family court, Sir James Munby. Munby, a long-time advocate of judicial transparency, has directed judges to always allow publication whether or not a request for publication has been made, unless there are critical and urgent reasons not to do so.

He allayed concerns about anonymity. He said that, while children and their guardians and carers who are the subject of court of protection cases will continue to be anonymised, the names of local authorities, statutory bodies and expert witnesses will be published, unless the judge rules that publication will be against the public interest. Also, where a judgment is likely to be used in a manner that could threaten anonymity, the judge will have power to refuse publication of the judgment or to make an order restricting its use.

Film footage of proceedings will normally be available for a year after the judgment. Service users are not able (for copyright reasons) to download film footage for editing or storage.

Members of the public can access and view proceedings on the Supreme Court’s website. They will also be able to read full judgments and media reporting and see the proceedings of Privy Council appeals.

Over 15,000 viewers have accessed a live broadcast service of current court proceedings since it was launched in October 2014.

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