Do you understand the court reporting laws?

In today’s blog post I will go through 4 questions and answer them in order to show my understanding regarding press and public court access and the contempt of the court. This will also give you as a reader an insight and idea of what the law in regard with this looks like and how it is applied in different scenarios;

  1. Do the restrictions under the Magistrates’ Courts Act apply to the story below? Re-write the story, and then explain how the Act applies. In particular, pay attention to the offence charged and whether persons can be named.

Denton magistrates heard that a man loitering within the grounds of a hospital’s staff accommodation at 2am last Sunday had photographed female nurses undressing in ground floor rooms. Barry Bright, 20, a shop assistant, of Elm Avenue, Lower Denton, pleaded not guilty to voyeurism. The hearing was adjourned for the trial to take place before magistrates in a week’s time at the request of the defence, who said Bright’s father had been taken ill that morning.

Mr Michael Mackay, prosecuting, said Brenda Shafi, aged 19, was in her room at Nightingale House, Denton, when she looked out of the window and saw a man with a camera. She alerted her friend, Sharon Jones, in the next room, and they went outside and confronted Bright, who they had seen earlier at a disco.

The Children and Young Person’s Act 1933, says that a youth receives legal anonymity once they have appeared in court. The Press Complaints Commission Code discourages naming youths under 16 involved in crimes. Barry Bright is excluded from this rule as he is 20 years old, thus no youth element and we can therefore name him.

However, S.67 of The Sexual Offences Act 2003 says that under voyeurism, the victims cannot be named. Therefore should Brenda Shafi’s name be taken out of the context.

On a further note; Journalists should always be careful when giving to much information about the victim. This is called “the jigsaw identification” and simply means that the victim might be identified by giving to many specific details. For this reason I suggest that the name of the building the suspect lived in should be taken out, so should her friends name as this will make it easy to find out who Sharon’s next door neighbour is. Other details such as “female nurses undressing in ground floor rooms” can also be altered slightly. Please see below for more information.

A better way of writing the scenario; Denton magistrates heard that a man loitering within the grounds of a hospital’s staff accommodation at 2am last Sunday had photographed female nurses undressing. Barry Bright, 20, a shop assistant, of Elm Avenue, Lower Denton, pleaded not guilty to voyeurism. The hearing was adjourned for the trial to take place before magistrates in a week’s time at the request of the defence, who said Bright’s father had been taken ill that morning. Mr Michael Mackay, prosecuting, said the victim, aged 19, was in her room when she looked out of the window and saw a man with a camera. She alerted her friend, in the next room, and they went outside and confronted Bright, who they had seen earlier.

  1. A defendant at a youth court denies taking away a car without the owner’s consent, and driving at 50 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone. The defendant was 17 at the time of the offences but had his 18th birthday 3 weeks before the youth court hearing. The chairman of the magistrates says “we wish to remind the press that the defendant cannot be identified.” Is this correct? Show how you reached the answer.

Children and Young Persons Act 1933 protects identification of juveniles appearing before youth courts. Section 49 says that no report may be published which reveals the name, address or school of any child or young person concerned in the proceedings, or which includes any particulars likely to lead to the identification of any child or young person. It is however unclear by the Act whether their identities should remain a secret when they had turned 18 if their case were still in progress.

Mr Justice Sullivan said in Todd v Director of Public Prosecutions 2003, that the purpose of section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 was “not to protect the interests of young persons’ once they have ceased to be such and have become adults…Once a person become an adult there is no reason to retain that restriction”. This case was similarly about a suspect, Todd, who was aged 17 when he first appeared court, but turned 18 before the case was concluded. The Sunderland Echo and Shields Gazette argued that “Todd should be named in light of the seriousness of the charge (which he had admitted) and his previous record, and the fact that, as he had turned 18 when he then appeared in court, he was no longer a “young person” within the meaning of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933”. The magistrates agreed.

Therefore, it the light of the case example, I believe that the chairman of the magistrates was wrong. The defendant can indeed be identified as he is 18 at the time of the trial. The media is not prohibited from naming him as the rule only applies to juveniles.

  1. Fourteen years old twins Sally and Susie will be appearing at Denton magistrates’ court, where the local council will apply for anti-social behaviour orders against them, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, preventing them from making noise, late at night, on Lower Denton housing estate. No criminal charges are involved at this stage.

What type of magistrate will hear the application? An adult magistrate court deciding on civil matters.

Can the girls be named in newspaper reports? It depends on the direction of the court; s. 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

If they infringe the anti social behaviour order, which court will normally hear the case? It would then be a criminal matter in a juvenile court.

Will any reporting restrictions apply at that hearing? Again, it is all a matter of the direction of the court. There is simply no automatic anonymity.

  1. Given the details below, rewrite the story so that it conforms to contempt law and then briefly explain the law that you have applied.

Minnie Maus, 12, of the village of Mouseton, in Calisota, has been banned from driving by Calisota Youth Court. The prosecutor, Donald Canard, told the court that Minnie had drunk several glasses of wine and two cans of lager whilst at a party to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of her cousin, Daisy Pato, in their home in Duckburg. Clarabelle Vache, defending, said that Minnie had been drinking since she was eleven years old, and often enjoyed a drink while at home with her six older brothers. Minnie has been able to drive her father’s jeep around their farmland since she was ten years old, and she decided to take the jeep without her father’s permission and drive it back to her home, some fifty miles away. Her father called the police and Minnie was arrested five miles away from the Pato’s home. Minnie pleaded guilty to taking a vehicle without consent, driving without a licence and insurance, and driving with excess alcohol.

A good way of writing above scenario is; “A 12 year old girl has been banned from driving by the court after driving 5 miles when drunk on several glasses of wine and two cans of lager. The girl had been at a family celebration when she decided to take her fathers car and drive back home. She pleaded guilty.”

We would need to be very cautious with this kind of reporting as we need to carefully apply s.49 of the Children and Young Persons Act. In order not to recognize Minnie we would need to erase all information that may lead to jigsaw identification, such as her name, the amount of brother, the name of the village or the court.

A Modern Day Bonnie And Clyde

Today’s post will be about the very interesting and well known phone hacking case (or should I say scandal?) of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. And yes, we will talk about her oh so interesting love life as well!

But first, let us discuss a thing or two about the phone hacking incident:

Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, the two former new international editors along with the former managing director of Name Of The Word Stuart Kuttner and the papers former news editor Ian Edmondson were charged with conspiring to illegal phone hacking of the royal family, victims and other powerful and potential sources. The charges relate to 2000 and 2006.

Andy Coulson was found guilty in 2014 while Rebekah Brooks, his predecessor, walked free from the Old Bailey after she was cleared of all four charges from the eight-month trial. Brooks was found not guilty from charges including conspiring to phone hacking while she was editor of the News of the World and making corrupt payments to public officials when she was editor of the Sun. She was also cleared of two charges that she conspired with her former secretary and her husband to conceal evidence from police investigating phone hacking in 2011. Stuart Kuttner also was found not guilty on phone-hacking charges.

However, what is more interesting about Rebekah Brooks and Any Coulson is not only their illegal handlings or the fact that she got amazing red bouncy curly hair, but the fact that they had a 6 year long love affair!

Rebekah Brooks was first married to actor Ross Kemp. However, in the meantime she had an affair with Coulson who took over from her as editor at the News of the World when she moved to The Sun. The police found out about some letters to Coulson she wrote in 2004. It said: ‘You are my very best friend. I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice, I love you, care about you, worry about you. We laugh and cry together.”

Brooks has desperately tried to explain the affair and said she knew indeed it was wrong and it shouldn’t have happened. She went on to say that she and Ross Kemp was simply not meant to be together.

She met her husband Charlie 2007 and married him in 2009, after her divorce from Kemp. She had also endured rounds of fertility tests and treatment in a bid to have a baby, before her cousin agreed to be a surrogate and carry her baby.

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“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.”
― Ken Levine

 

No Freeloaders Thanks! But Wait, You Sure?

Recognize this sign?

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As you may have guessed by the above picture we will in today’s blog post learn about the law on copyright. We will not only discuss what it is, how it works and why it is illegal to infringe other people’s copyright, but we will also see how it sometimes can be a benefit for the copyright owner to have a more relaxed approach on this. 

Copyright is a law that gives you ownership over the things you create. Be it a painting, a photograph, a poem or a novel, if you created it, you own it and it’s the copyright law itself that assures that ownership. It entitles the copyright owner to royalties and a say in how a work is used when it is reproduced by other people. Copyright protection is automatically given to works as soon as they are fixed in material form (ideas are not protected, only the permanent expression of those ideas).

You do not have to go through any legal process or registration to establish copyright. That said, it is still good practice to keep records and evidence of the artistic works you have created. You will make people aware of your claim to copyright ownership if you put the symbol © with your name and the year of publication somewhere on the work. This is not proof that you own the copyright, but it may prove helpful if you bring an action for copyright infringement at a later date. You could consider sending yourself a copy of your work, clearly date stamped and by special delivery, and keeping the envelope unopened or depositing copies with a solicitor. Although this does not prove that the work is created by you, it can still be useful to show the court that the work was in your possession at a particular time. This could help with an infringement claim.

In the UK, copyright lasts for the lifetime of the artist plus 70 years after their death. There are some special provisions which apply to older unpublished works. Sound recordings, films, broadcasts and cable programmes are protected for 50 years from the date of making or the date of release if the release occurs within 50 years of it being made. Copyright in typographical arrangements of a published edition lasts for 25 years from the end of the year in which the edition was first published.

Copyright is infringed when someone carries out one of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights without their permission, and an exception to copyright does not apply. This can be in relation to the whole or a substantial part of the artistic work. What is “substantial” is determined by a qualitative test, not a quantitative one, which means that there may be an infringement even if a small but distinctive portion of the original artwork is copied. If you own the copyright, you are entitled to bring proceedings against the infringer for copyright infringement. A number of civil remedies may be granted if the claim is successful: these include an award of damages or an injunction which orders the infringer to stop using the work immediately.

It is obvious to assume that if an artist wants to make a living from their music, they have got to enforce copyright to stop all those freeloaders ruining their business. As we will see in the below YouTube clip there are number of artists with this approach that have had their music infringed by other musicians and taken them to court. One good example is The Kink’s song All Day And All Of The Night v. The Doors with their song Hello, I Love You. (Click here to listen to the similarity of the two songs.) The court held the songs were indeed very similar, so a deal was made between the artists were The Kinks were given a large deal of The Door’s royalty. The infringement was not only illegal but it was also morally wrong and it left The Doors ashamed and with empty pockets (but still not as empty as mine).

However, there are also artists that do appreciate and have a more relaxed approach to infringements on their copyright. One of those is Psy with his hit song that no one can have missed, Gangnam Style. (Remember last summer when everyone looked like they were doing some type of jumping frog aerobics choreography on the dance floor? Yeah, that’s the song and dance we are talking about). It was held that Psy made millions by ignoring copyright infringements on Gangnam Style. The copying helped turn Gangnam Style into one of the most successful cultural phenomena in recent years, and that includes becoming the most-viewed video on YouTube ever. Interestingly, it’s mostly from things not directly connected with either his music or video that is making money. It is merely television commercials that are the big money spinner for the star. PSY has been popping up in TV commercials in South Korea for top brands such as Samsung Electronics and mobile carrier LG Uplus.

This is a great example of how artists can give away copies of their music and videos to build their reputations and then earn significant sums from (as in this case) appearances in TV commercials.

Should artists enforce copyright or have a more relaxed approach about it? Personally I feel like I wouldn’t want people to freeload on my music or any of my businesses. It is my hard work that someone in simply stealing and making money out of. I think it would be difficult for me to have a laid back approach in regards to this. Not every artist like to take the same route as Psy and neither would I (if I was an artist).

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments.

Here is a clip with examples of 10 rip-off songs – many of them accused of plagiarism:

“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.”
― William Shakespeare

Are we a fraction of a transparent society?

I came across a very interesting editorial in the Huffington Post by Don Tapscott, advisor to government and business leaders, who wrote an article on “Why Transparency and Privacy Should Go Hand in Hand”. Tapscott says that ultimately in order to protect privacy, all of us will need to change our own online behaviour. I was very caught by his arguments and how he used Facebook as an example to show that we are making our society more transparent then essential. I therefore want to give my personal view and reflection on whether I think we need to change our online behaviour in order to find a balance between privacy and transparency.

It is true that there is a grown generation with excessive digital interactions. Many of us have Facebook were we share information on not only ourselves but also on people around us. We share pictures, information, statues, location and even what we “like”. We are revealing so much on ourselves for others to observe and see. Transparency is no longer just an opportunity for companies and other institutions to generate trust and be more effective. It has now also become an opening for individuals to do the same. It is thought that the more transparent we are, the more moral our behaviour will be – we have nothing to hide.

Tapcsott says that “advocating individual privacy and institutional transparency simultaneously is not illogical; it is common sense.” – I cannot other than agree. Transparency is the chance and even the requirement of organizations to communicate important information to their stakeholders. Individuals have no such compulsion. Personal information makes up our modern identity.

Does this mean we live in a transparent world? Well, there is definitely a balance between privacy and transparency, however, as with other things, life is what you make of it . The information people reveal must be managed sensibly. In fact, to have a secure life and self-determination, individuals have an obligation to themselves to protect their personal information. And institutions should be transparent about what they do with our personal information. Transparency and privacy therefore do go hand in hand and are in fact well balanced.

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  We cannot control the wind, but we can direct the sail.” ― Jimmy Dean

Presentation on the Leveson Inquiry

The Leveson Inquiry is a judicial public Inquiry set up my Prime Minister David Cameron to study culture, practices and ethics of the British press. It was established after the News of the Worlds phone hacking scandal with Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. See presentation for detailed information regarding the Leveson Inquiry;

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRESENTATION

 See this blog post for more information on the phone hacking trial between Brooks and Coulson

Let’s Moot

In today’s class we had a moot on law of confidence. My group was representing the respondent, Channel Xstra.

A moot is an argument or discussion of a hypothetical legal case.  Click HERE to learn more about mooting.

The moot problem:

     Simms v Channel Xstra    

The plaintiff, Terry Simms, is an actor of some limited fame. After being ‘killed off’ in a recent episode of West Enders, a popular serial on BBC television, Mr Simms had an idea for a television serial. The storyline revolved around a group of young clothes designers, struggling to hit the big time in the tough world of fashion. Mr Simms spoke to Janet Nye, a well known scriptwriter, hoping to interest her in the idea of turning his storyline into scripts. Nye took the idea to Frank Blyton, a producer of many well known television serials. On return, she told Simms that Blyton rejected the idea, saying that it would not have the mass appeal that is needed for a successful serial. Accepting that Nye’s expertise and Blyton’s verdict was correct,  Simms thought no more about the script. Some time later, Channel Xstra, a digital channel, started to broadcast a daily ‘soap’ serial, called ‘A lines’ , starring several well known actors of repute. The storyline was almost identical to that discussed by Simms and Nye. The producer was Blyton. Simms sued Channel Xstra, Nye and Blyton for breach of confidence, alleging that Blyton knew that the idea was his (Simms’s) when he was approached by Nye. The court found that Channel Xstra were approached with the idea without knowledge that it was Simm’s and that no breach of confidence had occurred by Channel Xstra. Stepney J also held that it was in the public interest that mere ideas for serials (which had not been written down or developed yet to the full) should be in the public domain and not protected by the laws of confidence.

Simms is appealing on two grounds:

  1. Channel Xstra were bound by the laws of confidence, even though they were a third party to the knowledge, and did not know that it had been imparted to Blyton in confidence.
  2. There was no public interest defence available to Channel Xstra in this situation.

Skeleton argument by my group on behalf of the respondent – Channel Xstra:

1st submission (to be addressed by Senior Counsel)

a) The respondent was not bound by the law of confidence because it was an innocent third party, and came by the confidential information without actual or constructive notice of fact that the information was to be treated confidentially – Fraser v Thames Television Ltd [1984] QB 44

2nd submission (to be addressed by Senior Counsel)

a) Damages/Account for Profit – it is submitted a grant for damages or an account for profit is inappropriate in the present case because there is no direct breach of confidence between the respondent and the Appellant.

b) Injunction – Because the confidential information has already been used and made into a television show, o orde the grant of an injunction to restrain further publication would be ineffective, as the information is now freel available in the public domain – Attorney-general v The Observer Ltd and others [1990] 1 AC 109 at 217C affirmed by HL

Prince Albert v Strange (1849) 2 De Gex & Smale 652

Schering Chemicals v Falkman [1982] QB 1

3rd submission  (Addressed by Junior Counsel)

Senior Counsel - Samuel Wilkinson

Senior Counsel – Samuel Wilkinson

Now, sit back, relax and bring some popcorn and watch the moot here:

“A good lawyer knows the law; a great lawyer knows the judge.”

Don’t tell!

topsecret

A duty of confidence rises when confidential information comes to the attention of a person or public authority in circumstances where it would be unfair were that information to be disclosed to others.

To determine if the information was acquired in confidence, and whether its revelation constitutes a breach of confidence we will apply the case of Coco v A N Clarke Ltd [1969]. For the purposes of Freedom and Information Act 2000 S.41 a breach will always be illegal if:

  • the information has the necessary quality of confidence;
  • the information was imparted in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence; and
  • there was an unauthorised use of the information to the disadvantage of the confider

A breach will not be actionable when there is a defence in the public interest. There are instances, however, where they will rule that the information should be disclosed to the public as a whole, or a section of the public as it is in their interest.

However, an actionable breach is not just one that is arguable but one that would, on the balance of probabilities, succeed.

Lord Bingham held in AG v Guardian Newspapers (No. 2) that a duty of confidence arises from an obligation of conscience. Lord Goff further established that it would be illegal for a doctor to disclose a patient’s information to anyone but the patient. It was also held in General Medical Council that “Confidentiality” is central for patients in order to feel confident to provide information or seek essential medical care.

Patient’s interests in confidentiality is also protected under The Human Rights Act 1998, Article 8; Right to respect for private and family life. However Article 8 is not an absolute right and is qualified by Article 8(2).

Z v Finland (1997) is a good example of a case that applied Art 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998. The court held that there was no violation of the Article as there was good reasons for obtaining information, as the binding purposes being followed and no inconsistent measures were taken.

Baroness Hale held in Campbell v MGN Ltd [2004];  “Blundering in when matters are acknowledged to be at ‘fragile’ stage may do great harm.” An obligation of existence of confidentiality due to the nature of treatment for Ms Campbell’s drug addiction was established.

A recent well known case where unauthorized access to patient medical data and breach of confidence took place, is the case regarding the duty nurse who after a hoax call revealed information about the pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge, to two ‘prank-callers’ without identifying them.

The case emphasizes the importance of protecting patient information from dishonest individuals and media sources. Immediate communications and internet, joined with extensive EHR implementation, make confidentiality breaches more common.

The Nurse, Mrs. Saldanha, committed suicide a few days after the incident. She had not shown any previous signs of mental illness or depression. One of the involved parties of the ‘prank-call’ gave her apology to Mrs. Saldanha’s family and added “There is a lot to learn from this tragic event, I believe that hospitals and media organizations should look into their procedures and policies to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again”

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The biggest guru-mantra is; “never share your secrets with anybody. It will destroy you” ― Chanakya