Reflection on Court Orders

Court Orders

Section 29 Orders – Bans the press reporting the name, address, school or other information about a child under 18 (victim, defendant or witness)

Anonymity Orders – Victims of a sex offence – this order is automatically placed for life

Section 4 Orders – Made by court to postpone reporting – if there are two trials about the same people – the media will be banned from printing so as not to interfere with either of the cases

Section 11 Orders – Anonymity to defendants or victims in cases of blackmail and cases of national security. It bans name, address and any particulars being published. This has to be made straight away at the Magistrates Court.

Challenging Court Orders

All orders can be challenged by the media apart from victims of sex offences as the anonymity order is automatic

It bans people from reporting elements of cases but the press have the right to challenge

To challenge you must write a not to judge – give this to the clerk to pass on or ask the judge verbally

You must give notice to the prosecution and the defence of your intention to oppose an order. The court is supposed to give the media notice of intention to impose order

The court can vary or lift orders

Sometimes courts can make illegal orders so you must challenge it so you can report on it e.g. putting a section 39 order on an adult over 18

Even when the courts have incorrectly placed an order you must obey it until it has been varied or lifted

Section 11 Orders

These are used in blackmail and national security cases – it bans the name, address and any other particular – it gives anonymity to defendants and victims

If name or matter has already been mentioned in public proceedings, a section 11 order cannot be made after

Section 11 will be made when they are necessary in the interest of administration of justice

You can argue it is in the public interest to name the defendant and get the section 11 varied or lifted

Judicial College Guidance says that banning the publication of a defendants address may wrongly identify someone unconnected to the case

Courts try to use the order to protect the defendant’s children but this is not allowed

Section 4 Orders

They are to avoid substantial risk of prejudice to a later case

If there is a large gap between cases (4 months or over) it can be argued that you could report as people will most likely have forgotten the information by the next case. Also, it may result in more victims coming forward

Section 39 Orders

Once the defendant turns 18 years old this order expires

If it is a case at crown court they have to apply it – but it can be challenged

If the defendant is given an ASBO you can argue that you need to name them to make the ASBO effective

If it is in public interest e.g. Robbery or Murder you can argue to lift it

If it is a case about a teacher at a large school you could argue to get the order varied so that you could name the school as the individual child won’t be recognised from that

Babies and Toddlers – won’t be aware of the publicity so you might be able to get it lifted (usually if the child is under 5)

They cannot be used on children who are dead or not part of the proceedings

Challenging a Section 39 Order

It varies from judge to judge about if it is lifted or not

You could ask for it to be varied if lifting the order is not successful

Covering Sex Offences

Anonymity

The victim is automatically given lifelong anonymity by the court under the Sexual Offence Amendment Act 1992 to save embarrassment and trauma

Under Section one of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992 after an allegation has been made it is illegal to include, in any publication, any matter which is likely to lead members of the public to identify, during his or her, lifetime, the person who is the victim/alleged victim of that offence.

The ban includes:

  • The name
  • The address
  • The identity of any school or other educational establishment attended by them
  • Any still or moving picture of him or her

The order starts from the moment an allegation is made by the alleged victim or anyone else, even if no one is charged and it is automatic.

It remains even if the allegation is later withdrawn, where the police are told, whether the offender is prosecuted and whether anyone is convicted.

Anonymity applies to the target of an attempt to conspiracy to commit a sex act.

You have to be cause about Jigsaw identification – public putting information together and figuring out who it is referring to.

If the victim is not related to the defendant then you can print about the defendant without having to be too careful, however, in the case we saw the victim shared their surname with the defendant so you would have to be careful about what to print e.g. you could not put that it was their stepdaughter as this might lead to identification of the victim.

Jigsaw Identification

Section on bans publication of any matter that is like to lead to identification

For example, if the victim attends a large school, you could name the school as people won’t be able to identify the person, you would have to be careful about giving further information e.g. 14 year old who plays the violin – this could lead to identification as there might not be many 14 year old violinists at the school

You need to check the information that other publications are printing, if all publications give different bits of information about the victim – all publications would be in breach of the Act if this happened.

If the case is within a family then the publications should agree beforehand about printing the name and omit the relationship or not identify the adult defender and describe the abuse.

Media organisations can be fined for inadvertently publishing material which breaches the act.

In some circumstances the other can be lifted or varied to enable the media to report a case:

Only four ways you can identify a victim of a sex attack:

  1. If they die
  2. If they have signed a waiver to lift their anonymity
  3. If they have lied and made a false allegation
  4. If they are convicted of a crime and use the fact they were a victim of a sex offence as mitigation

Challenging Court Orders

You can challenge all order imposed by the court except in sex cases because victims of sexual offences have automatic anonymity.

As a journalist it is important for me to know the laws, this will help me from been sued, fined and will help to keep my reputation in tacked. I want to be a trustworthy, truthful and follow the guidelines. If I was to go into court journalism these are key as, you can ask for the anonymity to be lifted, if it is the public’s interest.