Use of cameras and electronic devices in court
1. The purpose of this practice direction is to provide clarity for parties, legal practitioners, jurors and other persons participating in, involved in or attending proceedings before the courts, as to the prohibitions and restrictions which apply to the use in court of a camera or an electronic device (as defined in paragraph 14 of this practice direction).
2. The conduct of proceedings before a Court is subject to the control of the judge or judges presiding in the proceedings concerned.
3. In exercising such control the judge or judges concerned is/are responsible for ensuring that proceedings are conducted in accordance with fair procedures and otherwise in a manner which ensures the proper administration of justice.
4. This responsibility includes ensuring that individual proceedings before the court, and court business generally, are conducted without improper interference.
5. Order 123 of the Rules of the Superior Courts, Order 67A of the Circuit Court Rules and Order 12B of the District Court Rules restrict and regulate the recording, other than by the taking of written or shorthand notes, of court proceedings by persons other than the Courts Service.
6. The taking of photographs or transmission by video or television of court proceedings, is, except where permission to do so has been given by the President of the court concerned, strictly prohibited.
7. While any person may take notes of court proceedings in writing or in shorthand, no person other than the Courts Service or a person acting on its behalf may make a recording of proceedings before a court by means of an electronic device without seeking and receiving permission of the judge or judges presiding in the proceedings.
8. The following persons may transmit live text-based communications during court proceedings using an electronic device in silent mode:
(a) a practising member of the legal profession who has bona fide business in the court concerned;
(b) a bona fide member of the news media profession or professional legal commentator whose professional standing is established to the court's satisfaction and who is using such device for the purpose of reporting proceedings before the court;
provided such use would not, in the opinion of the judge(s), disrupt the proceedings, or prejudice the administration of justice in relation such proceedings or any other proceedings before a court.
9. No person other than a person referred to in the preceding paragraph may transmit live text-based communications during court proceedings without seeking and receiving prior permission of the judge or judges presiding in the proceedings. Permission will not be given where, in the opinion of the judge(s), such transmission would disrupt proceedings before the court, or prejudice the administration of justice in relation to such proceedings or any other proceedings before a court. Any permission given will be conditional on the electronic device being used in silent mode.
10. Parties, legal practitioners and other persons participating, involved in or attending court proceedings may use an electronic device in silent mode to take notes of (as distinct from recording) the proceedings provided that the use of such device does not, in the judge's opinion, disrupt the proceedings.
11. Any permission given by the court under a provision of this practice direction may be withdrawn by the court.
12. No electronic device may, in any event, be used in a courtroom where its use would interfere with the secure operation of the hardware, sound or other information and communications technology systems provided to support the court.
13. Any infringement of the preceding provisions of this practice direction may result in the Court taking appropriate measures to address the infringement. Such measures may include, but depending on the circumstances may not be limited to:
(a) a direction that the person concerned -
(i) desist from use of an electronic device,
(ii) leave the courtroom,
(iii) surrender the electronic device temporarily,
(iv) surrender any recorded material from the electronic device, as the court may direct or order;
(b) a direction or order under any of the powers referred to in sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph 15 of this practice direction.
14. “Electronic device” includes any device capable of transmitting and/or recording data or audio or video, including a smartphone, cellular phone, computer, laptop, tablet, notebook, personal digital assistant, or other similar device.
15. The preceding provisions of this practice direction are without prejudice to -
(a) any provision of statute requiring court proceedings to be heard otherwise than in public or restricting or regulating the reporting of such proceedings,
(b) any rule of court restricting or regulating the reporting of such proceedings and
(c) any powers exercisable by a court under its inherent jurisdiction, or otherwise by law,
and nothing in this practice direction is to be construed as permitting the transmission, communication or dissemination otherwise of information or material relating to court proceedings in breach of any prohibition or restriction imposed by law.
16. This practice direction is issued by each of the signatories hereunder in respect of the court of which he or she is president, and shall have application to proceedings before each such court accordingly.
17. This practice direction shall come into operation on the 26th day of November 2018.
Dated this 19th day of November, 2018
President of the Court of Appeal
President of the High Court
President of the Circuit Court
President of the District Court