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Updated guidance issued on reporting restrictions in criminal courts

An updated set of guidelines on open justice and reporting restrictions in the criminal courts has been published.

Put together by the Judicial College, the News Media Association (NMA), the Society of Editors and the Media Lawyers Association, the fourth issue covers the new reporting restrictions applying to under 18 year olds, which came into force earlier this month, the female genital mutilation anonymity provisions which come into force next month and other changes relevant to reporting the work of the criminal courts.

The guidelines – designed to provide a single useful reference for courts and media – include a checklist setting out the points to consider before any restriction upon press access or reporting is made.

The document, which is available here, also summarises the automatic and discretionary reporting restrictions and where the law permits such exceptions to the open justice principle.

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The joint guidelines were revised by a specialist media barrister, Guy Vassall-Adams, following previous discussions between the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, the Society of Editors, the NMA and the Media Lawyers Association.

Bob Satchwell, Executive Director of the Society of Editors, said: “Since the first guide to reporting restrictions was published fewer inappropriate orders have been published. The courts have a better understanding of the media and listen to reporters when orders would make their work as a conduit to the public more difficult. Openness maintains confidence in the justice system and that benefits all who work in it.

"We are grateful to the Lord Chief Justice for encouraging this update and the lawyers who have applied their expertise to it.”

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