One of the most fundamental concepts governing a legal system is not only that justice should be done, but that it should also be seen to be done. The modern notion of open justice sees the media encouraged to report on the court system in operation; indeed, the right to do so comes under the scope of Article 10. There are, however, situations in which limits must be put upon what may be reported, such as, for example, where the public interest lies in protecting the Article 8 privacy rights of an individual, or perhaps even where it is necessary for information identifying them to be withheld from publication lest it put their actual lives in danger, as was seen in regards to the Bulger killers, Thompson & Venables (UK). Prior to and during legal proceedings, it can be necessary to put limits on the manner in which the media report particular proceedings; in some circumstances, it may even be necessary to prevent certain key information from being able to be reported at all for the duration, as to do otherwise could pose a threat to the integrity of the proceedings, violating the Article 6 right.
This module will undertake a comparative exploration of different legal approaches which seek to maintain the balance between open justice and media freedom of expression on the one hand, and the protection of vital interests in the integrity of the justice process on the other. Consideration will also be given to the challenges posed by the nature of the contemporary media: online, global, and instantaneous. Can traditional approaches in this area, designed in an era of professional journalists and defined boundaries, be adapted in order to really address the internet era of amateur commentators, online gossips, and international communication platforms with global reach?
Final Assessment Exercise