find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Technology ban may not be smart move

Technology ban may not be smart move

Laws proposing a ban on the use of smartphones and tablets in courtrooms could hinder lawyers in doing their job, it has been claimed.

The NSW Government proposal would expand the Court Security Act, which bans the use of recording devices in court, to include a ban on the unauthorised use of any device to transmit information forming part of court proceedings.

Tabled by state Attorney-General Greg Smith in November, the proposed laws threaten a 12-month prison term and $2200 fine for anyone found sharing information about a case on social media or privately to others.

Kevin Lynch (pictured), a media and technology partner at Johnson Winter & Slattery, said he commonly has a smartphone or tablet with him in court, which he uses to look at the AustLii app, pull up material on electronic files, or email other lawyers and support staff involved in the case.

“Occasionally I’ll give a brief update to the client, which will effectively go out over 3G to let them know how things are proceeding,” said Lynch.

“When I do use [electronic devices] I’m always mindful of using them, not in a surreptitious way, but in a way that doesn’t disturb the court, and I don’t think it’s in conflict with any of my obligations to the court or the client, in fact it makes things a lot easier from a practical point of view.”

Court reporters also use electronic devices to meet digital deadlines and keep the public informed contemporaneously on case proceedings via Twitter and blogs.

Smith said this is “not common” but Lynch, who regularly appears in court for the media, disagreed, arguing that the use of new media in court is part of the modern craft of court reporting.

“If [journalists are] pre-occupied with filing from court to meet a digital deadline it may increase the risk of them missing something in front of them, but I think experienced court reporters are used to dealing with those challenges … most are used to using the best technology that’s available to them,” said Lynch, adding that regular social media updates can help the public better understand technical aspects of a case.

Smith indicated certain exceptions will be made to protect principles of open justice, by way of regulations, but these are not covered in the proposed legislation.

Lynch said that, without clear exemptions in the legislation, regulations can come and go without being reviewed by Parliament.

“If you’re going to put a restriction which has the potential of restricting freedom of speech it’s best that you’re quite clear about the limits of those restrictions when you actually write the law,” he said.

Getting the judge’s express permission every time a lawyer or reporter wants to send an email, text message or tweet, would delay and create nuisance in the court, said Lynch.

 “As long as [a report is] fair and accurate, a big part of openness in today’s context is speed and contemporaneity, so it’s a backward step to try and stamp on technology. Anything that would stamp on technology in order to obtain an end would be a mistake,” he said.

The NSW proposals come one month after attorney-generals around Australia agreed to seek a coordinated national approach to address the impact of social media on trials.

It takes a starkly different approach to that of the Victorian Supreme Court, which tweets judgments via its official Twitter account before a justice’s reasons are made available to the public.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Technology ban may not be smart move
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
microphone
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
protest
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Blocked
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...