UK Supreme Court Policy on Tweeting Etc. From Court

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has just released a policy statement concerning “The Use of Live Text-Based Communications from Court” [PDF]. The nub of the policy is simple and clear:

[A]ny member of a legal team or member of the public is free to use text-based communications from court, providing (i) these are silent; and (ii) there is no disruption to the proceedings in court.

Use of mobile phones from the court is prohibited. And, presumably, no video or still cameras are to be used: the court itself broadcasts proceedings using installed video cameras.

A few exceptions to the broadly permissive policy are set out, having to do with rare occasions when secrecy or privacy is important.

So far as I know, the Supreme Court of Canada does not have a published policy concerning text-based reporting from within the court. Though I was present when, recently, Simon Chester was given permission to use Twitter from within the court.

[via @montserratlj]


  1. This policy applies only to the UK Supreme Court. It makes sense for appeals. The harder case is at trial – though there is precedent in Ontario for permission for tweeting by journalists (presumably potentially anybody) in the body of the court.

    Is there Canadian policy yet on tweeting by jurors or counsel about the cases before them? Other Internet searches by jurors? The topic has been mentioned here, here and here, but not, apparently, re Canada.

  2. Antonin I. Pribetic

    While we await the first Canadian decision on the use of Twitter in the courtroom, we at least have Mr. Tweet, an expert witness in roofing: Stoll v. Franklin Homes Inc., 2010 SKPC 165 (CanLII)

    [9] The Plaintiff called Curtis Tweet as a witness. I accepted Mr. Tweet as an expert in the area of roofing based on his 19 years of experience in that field, and allowed him to provide opinion evidence with respect to proper or common roofing techniques and practices. Mr. Tweet was a very careful witness, and I was impressed by his testimony. He took care to distinguish between what he had personally observed, what he could observe from photographs presented to him, and what he did not know. He was careful to indicate where an answer involved speculation on his part. I found his evidence very compelling. He was of the opinion that the method used by the Defendant to tie the ladders to the roof of the house was inadequate and faulty, resulting in the ladders sagging and pulling away from the building. Various other problems were also identified by him, including gaps left and shingles nailed incorrectly. Certain of the photographs submitted by the Plaintiff appear to bear out his observations.

  3. Minor correction – I was told (informally) that the Court would have no objection to unobtrusive blogging. Don’t think that Twitter was mentioned because this Simon doesn’t tweet. As it happened, my battery was low and there wasn’t a plug within reach, so it didn’t happen.