reporting restrictions

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Statutory limitations on making public certain information relating to a case. Section 8(1) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 makes it unlawful to publish a report (written or broadcast) of any information other than the identity of the court; the names of examining justices and legal representatives; the names, addresses, ages, and occupations of parties and witnesses, charges; and decisions on the grant of bail or publicly funded representation. The restriction applies to all stages of the case in the magistrates' court, including the committal, and, unless lifted, applies in the Crown Court until the trial is over. Breach of the restriction carries a maximum fine of £5 000. Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 empowers an adult court to order that the media shall not reveal the name, address, school, or any other identifying details of a juvenile offender or any juvenile who is a witness in a case that is brought before it. Section 49 of the 1933 Act imposes a similar reporting restriction in the youth court, although the restriction is automatic. The court has the power to lift the restriction if it is appropriate to do so in order to avoid injustice; in respect of a child or young person who has been charged or convicted of a violent or sexual offence or an offence punishable (in the case of an adult) with imprisonment for 14 years or more and is unlawfully at large; and in relation to a child or young person who has been convicted of an offence if it is in the public interest to do so. Breach of an order made under the 1933 Act carries a maximum fine of £5 000.

Sections 44 and 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 contain provisions intended to clarify the law restricting the reporting of information on a person under the age of 18 involved in the legal process and to extend that restriction back to the investigative stage of the offence. However, those provisions have not yet been brought into force. See also anonymity.

Subjects: Law.

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