UK Judges prohibited from expressing opinions on cases via social networking sites
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Written on 23 August 2013
The rules announced this month prohibit judges from blogging
tweeting controversial opinions about cases, even if those opinions are
expressed anonymously. The guidance has been reported to have come into
effect immediately. The rules apply to all those who hold judicial
office in UK Courts and Tribunals, including barristers working as part
Those having posted comments on blogging sites such as twitter
the past have been warned to delete the comments or face sanctions.
The new rules have been laid down by Lord Justice Goldring
(one of the UK’s most senior judges) who has commented:
- “Judicial office holders should be acutely aware
need to conduct themselves, both in and out of court, in such a way as
to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary”.
- “Blogging by members of the judiciary is not prohibited.
officer holders who blog (or who post comments on other people’s blogs)
must not identify themselves as members of the judiciary. They must
also avoid expressing opinions which, were it to become known that they
hold judicial office, could damage public confidence in their own
impartiality or in the judiciary in general.”
- “The above guidance also applies to blogs which purport to
anonymous. This is because it is impossible for somebody who blogs
anonymously to guarantee that his or her identity cannot be discovered”.
- “Judicial office holders who maintain blogs must adhere to
guidance and should remove any existing content which conflicts with it
forthwith. Failure to do so could ultimately result in disciplinary
The Office for Judicial Complaints
June this year that the UK’s only Romany Magistrate Mrs Shay Clipson
had resigned. The resignation was in response to a letter requesting
her to remove comments from an internet blog that were deemed
‘inappropriate’, warning her, that if the comments were not removed and
if she did not refrain from commenting in such a manner, she would
be dismissed from her post as a Magistrate.
The second most senior judge in the country Lord Neuberger has
commented that members of the judiciary are in danger of “devaluing the
coinage” by giving too many public talks and “risk undermining” their
independence by commenting on Government policy.
As senior judges are allowed to publish articles, books and
interviews, it has been reported that there has been a great deal of
antagonism in legal circles in response to the official guidance.
Written by Rehana Ali
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-10-17 10:12:21 in Legal Articles