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Tweeting from court: what you need to know

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The Law Society’s Library provides information regarding live text-based communications from court. 

The Law Society Library maintains a database of enquiries called Common Queries. These include results from research to find forms, precedents, rules, regulations and guidance. These records can be freely accessed via the library catalogue Library Knowledge Base

The Supreme Court  

The Supreme Court published guidance in February 2011 (revised January 2013) on the practice relating to the use of live text-based communications from court. 

The guidance states that, subject to certain exemptions, any member of a legal team or member of the public is free to use text-based communications from court, providing:  

(1) these are silent; and

(2) there is no disruption to the proceedings in court. 

No one present in a courtroom is permitted to use a mobile device to make a telephone call, or to receive such a call. 

For more information, see the Supreme Court policy at the link below.

www.supremecourt.uk/docs/policy-on-live-text-based-communications.pdf

Other courts

In December 2011 the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales issued guidance on the use of live, text-based communications from court. 

The live text-based communications covered by the guidance includes communications such as from mobile email, social media (including Twitter) and internet enabled laptops in and from courts. 

We are not aware of any statutory prohibition on the use of live text-based communications in open court. A member of the public who is in court may make an application for permission to activate and use, in silent mode, a mobile phone, small laptop or similar piece of equipment, solely in order to make live text based communications. The application may be made formally or informally (for instance by communicating a request to the judge through court staff). 

Representatives of the media or a legal commentator who wishes to use live, text-based communications from court may do so without making an application to the court. 

For more information see the guidance at the link below.

www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ltbc-guidance-dec-2011.pdf

This FAQ is compiled by the Law Society Library. Comments relating to the questions should be sent to library@lawsociety.org.uk.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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