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Magistrates' Courts Act 1980

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This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

8Restrictions on reports of committal proceedings

(1)Except as provided by subsections (2), (3) and (8) below, it shall not be lawful to publish in Great Britain a written report, or to broadcast in Great Britain a report, of any committal proceedings in England and Wales containing any matter other than that permitted by subsection (4) below.

(2)A magistrates' court shall, on an application for the purpose made with reference to any committal proceedings by the accused or one of the accused, as the case may be, order that subsection (1) above shall not apply to reports of those proceedings.

(3)It shall not be unlawful under this section to publish or broadcast a report of committal proceedings containing any matter other than that permitted by subsection (4) below—

(a)where the magistrates' court determines not to commit the accused, or determines to commit none of the accused, for trial, after it so determines ;

(b)where the court commits the accused or any of the accused for trial, after the conclusion of his trial or, as the case may be, the trial of the last to be tried;

and where at any time during the inquiry the court proceeds to try summarily the case of one or more of the accused under section 25(3) or (7) below, while committing the other accused or one or more of the other accused for trial, it shall not be unlawful under this section to publish or broadcast as part of a report of the summary trial, after the court determines to proceed as aforesaid, a report of so much of the committal proceedings containing any such matter as takes place before the determination.

(4)The following matters may be contained in a report of committal proceedings published or broadcast without an order under subsection (2) above before the time authorised by subsection (3) above, that is to say—

(a)the identity of the court and the names of the examining justices;

(b)the names, addresses and occupations of the parties and witnesses and the ages of the accused and witnesses;

(c)the offence or offences, or a summary of them, with which the accused is or are charged ;

(d)the names of counsel and solicitors engaged in the proceedings ;

(e)any decision of the court to commit the accused or any of the accused for trial, and any decision of the court on the disposal of the case of any accused not committed ;

(f)where the court commits the accused or any of the accused for trial, the charge or charges, or a summary of them, on which he is committed and the court to which he is committed ;

(g)where the committal proceedings are adjourned, the date and place to which they are adjourned;

(h)any arrangements as to bail on committal or adjournment ;

(i)whether legal aid was granted to the accused or any of the accused.

(5)If a report is published or broadcast in contravention of this section, the following persons, that is to say—

(a)in the case of a publication of a written report as part of a newspaper or periodical, any proprietor, editor or publisher of the newspaper or periodical;

(b)in the case of a publication of a written report otherwise than as part of a newspaper or periodical, the person who publishes it;

(c)in the case of a broadcast of a report, any body corporate which transmits or provides the programme in which the report is broadcast and any person having functions in relation to the programme corresponding to those of the editor of a newspaper or periodical,

shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £500.

(6)Proceedings for an offence under this section shall not, in England and Wales, be instituted otherwise than by or with the consent of the Attorney-General.

(7)Subsection (1) above shall be in addition to, and not in derogation from, the provisions of any other enactment with respect to the publication of reports and proceedings of magistrates' and other courts.

(8)For the purposes of this section committal proceedings shall, in relation to an information charging an indictable offence, be deemed to include any proceedings in the magistrates' court before the court proceeds to inquire into the information as examining justices; but where a magistrates' court which has begun to try an information summarily discontinues the summary trial in pursuance of section 25(2) or (6) below and proceeds to inquire into the information as examining justices, that circumstance shall not make it unlawful under this section for a report of any proceedings on the information which was published or broadcast before the court determined to proceed as aforesaid to have been so published or broadcast.

(9)Any report in a newspaper, and any broadcast report, of committal proceedings in a case where publication is permitted by virtue only of subsection (3) above, published as soon as practicable after it is so permitted, shall be treated for the purposes of section 3 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 (privilege of contemporaneous newspaper reports of court proceedings) and section 9(2) of the Defamation Act 1952 (extension of the said section 3 to broadcasting) as having been published or broadcast contemporaneously with the committal proceedings.

(10)In this section—

  • " broadcast" means broadcast by wireless telegraphy sounds or visual images intended for general reception ;

  • " publish", in relation to a report, means publish the report, either by itself or as part of a newspaper or periodical, for distribution to the public.

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