The Scottish courts uphold the principle of open justice. Almost everything that happens in the courts happens in public. The press are entitled to be present and to report on proceedings. Live tweeting of high profile cases has become commonplace.
There are, however, limits. Where court proceedings are active (in criminal cases, from the point of charge onwards) any publication that creates ‘a substantial risk that the court of justice in the proceedings concerned will be seriously impeded or prejudiced’ will be regarded as a contempt of court, on a strict liability basis. Several journalists and publications have fallen foul of this rule, usually leading to the imposition of a significant financial penalty. Examples include the publication of photographs of the accused, or giving a clear view on the guilt of the accused.
But it is hard to find a recent example of adverse press reporting actually undermining a criminal prosecution. Arguments that an accused cannot get a fair trial because of negative publicity tend to fail. The courts usually proceed on the basis that juries will follow directions to ignore such reports, and will instead focus on the evidence presented to them. Such jury research as has been done supports this view.
Livingstone Brown has experience of defending media organisations and professionals accused of contempt of court in such circumstances.
Livingstone Brown is a leading firm of Scottish solicitors. Based in Glasgow, but dealing with cases around the country, the firm has been at the forefront of legal service provision for over thirty years.
If you have a legal problem, getting good quality legal information at the earliest stage can be invaluable. The firm offers a free initial enquiry service; all you have to do is call in, telephone, or e-mail. You won't be charged for your enquiry; we'll let you know by return whether we can help, what we can do, and how much it's likely to cost. We can also offer legal aid where available.
Led by former senior partner Gerard Brown CBE, who continues as a consultant, the firm has built up an enviable reputation for quality of service and client care.
The firm has won various awards over the years. In the 2019 edition of the prestigious Legal 500 rankings Livingstone Brown was ranked as a 'top-tier' firm for general criminal work, and is also recommended for fraud cases. Stuart Munro and Gerard Brown were named as 'Recommended Lawyers'. In the Chambers directory the firm has a Band 1 ranking for criminal work, and Stuart Munro is a ranked financial crime lawyer. The firm was named Criminal Defence Firm of the Year and Family Law Team of the Year at the Scottish Legal Awards 2019.