It was welcome news that Chief Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung has set up a working group to study the feasibility of broadcasting the proceedings of some of our courts in Hong Kong.
It seems he is anxious to have guidelines in place so appeal court proceedings might be the first to appear on the small screen later this year. Conceivably this might be followed by certain parts of even trial proceedings being broadcast.
Of course this follows in the wake of several other countries, such as the United States and most recently the UK.
Allowing the pen and not the lens into the courtroom in the digital age makes no sense.
Open justice must mean as open as is consistent with fairness and other key considerations.
That must prioritise allowing the public to see the courts at work in order to foster confidence in the judiciary and its decisions.
Most people today anyway take their news from the television and social media. We should no longer have to depend on the court reporter telling us what happened that day in the building behind him when the camera can unobtrusively relay it to us directly subject, of course, to strict rules of coverage.
Confidence in the courts is particularly important in Hong Kong at the moment.
Is it imagining too much to think that snippets of security trials might eventually be seen on television?
After all, televising the UK Supreme Court proceedings in 2019 when it ruled that the government’s decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was unlawful certainly paid dividends.
It showed that the justices were not implementing a political decision of their own, but were applying legal principles in a principled way.
Cameras would hold our justice up to the light for all to see.
Warts and all.
For further information, please contact:
Jonathan Midgley, Partner, Haldanes