In line with court modernisation initiatives, this week the Court of Appeal will pilot live-streaming proceedings, starting with a high profile case between West Ham United and the tenant of Olympic Stadium, E20. The case concerns seating capacity for football matches at the stadium.
Whilst the Supreme Court have been streaming certain cases since 2013, this is the first time the public will be able to see a Court of Appeal hearing in action. The public will be able to see both Counsel for the respective parties and the judicial bench (including Sir Terence Etherton, master of the rolls), which will hopefully make for some interesting viewing!
Unlike in other jurisdictions (e.g. U.S.A), court proceedings in the UK have traditionally been restricted from broadcasting. This pilot opens the way for a relaxing of those rules, to hopefully enable more public engagement and awareness of how the judiciary and legal system functions in this country.
An interesting question on this topic is whether live evidence will ever be permitted to be broadcast, as is often the case in the States. Appeals very rarely involve any oral evidence, and therefore do not raise the difficult issues of witnesses being filmed.
‘We hope that as well as opening up the court’s work to a mass audience, the broadcasts will increase public confidence in the system,’ he said. ‘This is an exciting way of opening up our courts to help the public understand and see for themselves the way that courts work, and how appeals are heard. The first case is a high profile one with a great deal of public interest, which is why it has been selected for the public pilot.’