IT IS UNLAWFUL TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF A TRIAL CONDUCTED REMOTELY

In SLF Associates Inc v (1) HSBC (UK) Bank Plc & Ors [2021] EWHC 5 (Ch) Master Kaye pointed out that taking photographs of participants in a remote  court was unlawful.

THE CASE

The Master was giving judgment in a dispute between the claimant and the defendant bank.  The hearing took place remotely.  After the hearing a screenshot of the proceedings was circulated.

THE JUDGMENT ON THE SCREENSHOT ISSUE

  1. I pause there as in this case unfortunately there is a history between Mrs Durnford and Mr and Mrs Giles which has perhaps led Mrs Durnford and her supporters to lose sight of the conduct expected of them in relation to court hearings. The hearing was conducted remotely. Mrs Durnford joined the hearing remotely as did someone who signed into the hearing as “Mrs Durnford’s Legal Friend”. After the hearing, a screen shot image from the hearing appears to have been circulated by a Mr Keith Gannon who described himself as a “witness” to the hearing. The screen shot appears to have been taken by “Mrs Durnford’s Legal Friend”. As the other attendees were all identifiably either the parties or their legal representatives it seems likely that Mr Gannon was “Mrs Durnford’s Legal Friend” alternatively he has by some means been provided with the screen shot image by “Mrs Durnford’s Legal Friend”.
  2. I draw the parties’ attention to s.85C of the Courts Act 2003 (as inserted by the Coronovirus Act 2020) which provides that it is an offence for a person to make or attempt to make an unauthorised recording or transmission of court proceedings, which includes images. The screen shot circulated by Mr Gannon is an unauthorised recording or transmission of an image for the purposes of s.85C.
  3. The screen shot and/or any other recordings or screen shots taken of the hearing on 27 July 2020 are unauthorised recordings of court proceedings in breach of s.85C. Any person in possession of any unauthorised recording or image of the 27 July hearing should immediately delete it and ask anyone to whom they have sent it to do the same.
  4. When this judgment is handed down, I will direct that Mr Gannon and “Mrs Durnford’s Legal Friend” are provided with a copy of the relevant paragraphs of this judgment. The parties and their legal advisers should provide a copy of the relevant paragraphs to anyone else who has, to their knowledge, come into possession of or circulated any unauthorised recording or image from the hearing.
  5. It is important that during this public health crisis court business can continue, and so far as possible, where appropriate, be conducted remotely in accordance with the overriding objective and in a transparent, open, and public way. To do so requires all those who wish to participate in a remote hearing to observe the requirements set out in s.85C.