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Court Orders affecting the Media

Court orders affecting the media

Matrix barristers are leading experts on issues concerning the media’s ability to report court proceedings to the general public and frequently appear in the most challenging and high profile cases, both at first instance and on appeal. This includes cases raising issues of open justice, the imposition of reporting restrictions, applications for production orders against the media and contempt of court cases relating to media publications.

Open Justice

While the starting point is that most court hearings take place in public, allowing public attendance and media reporting, courts may sit in private in a wide range of circumstances. Matrix barristers have appeared in many ground-breaking cases in this area, intervening in civil or criminal cases where full reporting is under threat, seeking access to court documents to assist media reporting, or making applications on behalf of affected individuals.

Reporting Restrictions

Both criminal and civil courts have a wide range of powers to impose reporting restrictions that prevent the media from reporting parts of case, or the identities of individuals, while in some situations automatic reporting restrictions apply. Issues concerning reporting restrictions often arise unexpectedly in the course of proceedings, requiring highly skilled and experienced advocates who can provide expert advice and representation at short notice. Matrix barristers have unparalleled experience in this area and we write the guide on reporting restrictions in the criminal courts that is used by the judiciary.

Applications for production orders

The police has specific powers to compel media organisations to hand over journalistic material of relevance to certain criminal investigations. These applications can raise difficult issues of source protection and freedom of expression and Matrix members frequently act in the most complex and high profile cases in this area.

Publication contempts

Media organisations may commit a contempt of court by publishing an article that breaches the strict liability rule, which prevents reporting likely to create a significant risk of substantial prejudice to the administration of justice, or by publishing a story that breaches a reporting restriction. Matrix members have great expertise in advising on, and representing media organisations in, proceedings relating to contempt of court, including sentencing hearings.

Notable Cases

Khuja v Times Newspapers [2017] UKSC 49; [2019] AC 161  (anonymity of suspects in criminal proceedings)

Guardian News and Media Ltd v Incedal [2016] EWCA Crim 11;  [2016] 1 WLR 1767  (trials in private on national security grounds)

Global Torch Ltd v Apex Global Management [2013] EWCA Civ 819; [2013] 1 WLR 2993  (trials in private and harm to reputation)

R(Guardian News and Media Limited) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court [2012] EWCA Civ 420;  [2013] QB 618 (media access to court documents)

JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 42; [2011] 1 WLR 1645 (anonymity and public judgments in privacy cases)

Independent News and Media Limited v A [2010] EWCA Civ 343;  [2010] 1 WLR 2262 (media access to the Court of Protection)