Cameras in the UK Supreme Court

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - G466 (University of Glasgow)
Nancy Marder , Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology
As our social fabric is stretched and torn by increasing xenophobia, terrorism, religious intolerance, racism, and income inequality, government institutions are subject to increasing public scrutiny.  Court systems can play a powerful countervailing role when they are perceived across society's disparate groups as being fair and unbiased.  Courts have begun to experiment with changes to tradition that they hope will allow them to maintain public trust.

For example, a raging debate in European and US courts is whether to allow cameras in the courtroom.  Proponents argue that they make courts transparent to the public and help the public to hold judges accountable for their performance.  Opponents argue that they interfere with the work of the court and the fairness of the proceedings and they reduce complicated legal issues to sound bites and entertainment.

The United Kingdom has recently permitted cameras in its Supreme Court, and other countries can learn from this experience.  This paper will provide the first empirical study of how cameras are used in the UK Supreme Court and with what effects.  This paper will describe the context in which cameras are used in the UK Supreme Court, including when they can be used, who controls them, and how the images are made available to the public.  Countries in Europe and elsewhere can learn from the UK Supreme Court's experience with cameras, but to do so they need a good understanding of the context in which cameras are used and empirical evidence as to cameras' early effects.