A new YouTube star is born: Court of Appeal to be live-streamed

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By Polly Botsford on

‘Revolutionary’ proposal will mean even family cases could be broadcast live

Cases which have grabbed the public’s attention such as the Alfie Evans case could be watched live on YouTube, the Judicial Office confirmed today.

Proposals put forward by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, are afoot that could see the Court of Appeal’s civil cases being live-streamed on the video giant’s website.

There is no current ban on non-family cases being broadcast (cameras have been allowed in since 2013) but this new proposal would enable the court itself to live-stream, much as the Supreme Court does now.

This is the latest in a line of initiatives in which the judiciary is opening up justice. Legal Cheek reported circuit judges taking to vlogging to show a behind-the-scenes look at life as a judge. And when the new Lord Chief Justice made his maiden speech, it was on YouTube that he made it.

The live-streaming would cover judges’ comments and lawyers’ arguments not witness testimony.

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The latest proposal needs official approval first, however. A spokesperson told Legal Cheek that “the Master of the Rolls will consult the Lord Chancellor” and will also need to request an amendment to the current rules preventing the recording and broadcasting of family cases heard in the Court of Appeal.

Etherton told The Times (£) today:

“It’s revolutionary. I am so excited about it because I think it’s exactly what we’re trying to do here . . . we all believe in open justice and the effect of transparency to enable the public to have confidence in what we’re doing.”

If it gains the official stamp, the initiative could go live as early as October of this year. How will its subscriber numbers compare to the UK’s Supreme Court whose YouTube channel has over 7,000 subscribers? In the famous Article 50 judgment, viewers almost reached 10,000; though it has to be said that some of the less attention-grabbing cases are only watched by a few hundred viewers.

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