The media coverage of court proceedings in Europe: Striking a balance between freedom of expression and fair process
SourceComputer Law & Security Review
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Press curiosity to report on legal proceedings has been a salacious feature in history of mass media. Pre-trial comment, media coverage of press proceedings and the protection of privacy of the defendant are some of the main legal issues which are raised by the ambiguous relation of media to court proceedings. The Internet revolution and the emergence of the blogosphere have added a new dimension to the analysis of these legal issues. A balance between freedom of expression and the guarantee of a fair unprejudiced process has to be achieved in the context of application of legal mechanisms of protection of the justice’s authority, such as contempt of court. As regards the question of media coverage of the court proceedings, the decision of the UK Supreme Court on May 2011 to permit television coverage of its hearings demonstrates an important shift as regards how publicity is perceived by the administration of justice in the UK, while there is a certain disparity between national legislators in the way they deal with this issue at a European level. The legal question of the protection of the defendant through the effective guarantee of the presumption of innocence and, consequently, that of a fair trial is often combined with the debate about the right of the defendant’s privacy not only when there is a pressing social need for information to the public before or during the court trial but also many years after the end of the legal proceedings. "