Lady Chief Justice “interested” in expanding broadcasting of criminal trials

updated on 07 February 2024

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Lady Chief Justice of England and Wales, Baroness Carr, is “really interested” in filming more trials in a wider range of courts to “promote open justice”.

In her first press conference since taking the position, Baroness Carr spoke about potentially filming cases heard in the Commercial Court and the Administrative Court. These courts review the decisions of other courts and hear challenges to decisions. This potential change could mean televising judicial reviews, immigration tribunals and cases of public interest, like the Duke of Sussex’s action against Mirror Group Newspapers.

In the past, cases of general public importance heard in the Supreme Court and the Appeal Court have been filmed. Additionally, in 2022, former Lord Justice Baron Burnett allowed the sentencing comments of high-profile crown court cases to be filmed.  

In Scotland, an entire proceeding can be filmed with the consent of all parties. Baroness Carr said she’s “very interested in extending filming to a wider cohort” but has some reservations about following Scotland’s lead. She’s stated that the reason introducing cameras has “worked so well is because […] we rolled it out very slowly”.

However, filming trials could have some negative impacts, which Baroness Carr highlighted at the press conference. She emphasised the importance of “getting the best evidence from the witness”,  which filming could complicate as some may be tempted to play up to the camera. She also noted concerns about people “watching for the wrong reasons”, explaining that she wants to ensure nobody’s “getting a kick out of somebody’s distress and misery” in difficult cases.

In addition to considering expanding filming across different courts, Baroness Carr is looking at ways to tackle the backlog of cases. She’s considering using virtual courts and tribunals for non-criminal cases, noting that she wants to be as “creative as possible” with how courts operate and use their time.