16 December 2010 - 11:58am | posted by | 0 comments

Just how legal is a courtroom tweet?

Just how legal is a courtroom tweet?Just how legal is a courtroom tweet?

With Twitter hitting the headlines once again this time after conquering the courts system The Drum spoke to Campbell Deane, a partner at Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co, to get the legal perspective on developments.

A high profile decision by a magistrate’s court to allow reporters to tweet from court, a legal first, indicating that the network’s size is lending it new found credibility and acceptance, as well as financial clout.

Dean said: “If a journalist is sitting there on a Blackberry it’s not any different to a laptop filing copy, it’s just quicker. It’s only an issue if it proves to be a distraction to the court.

“Twitter allows people to update people on courtroom events as quickly as they possibly can. That’s fine as far as it goes, so long as it is fair and accurate. The difficulty is if you start expressing opinion, such as ‘I can’t believe that….,’ that’s not a fair and accurate report of events and would put the publisher in contempt of court.”

Critically if any material is published which breaches those conditions then there could be a possibility of action being taken against the publisher, as Deane states: “If the defence is made aware that material was being published that prejudiced a case they could bring it before a judge.”

Re-tweeters and commentators beware though, if you send on prejudicial material you could be held equally as liable as the original source.
 

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