New powers in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 give judges the power to allow journalists, researchers and members of the public to watch any court hearing remotely.

The new measures came into effect on 28 June.

The press release on the Judiciary’s website explain that the power is to “direct that images or sounds of the proceedings be transmitted electronically”. It must be used “for the purpose of enabling persons not taking part in the proceedings to watch or listen to” them. It is not designed for those taking part in the proceedings. Other powers exist to cover remote participation.

And this is the really important part, particularly for family court hearings. The statement says:

“This power is given to any “court”, but in this context that term has the expanded meaning of “any tribunal or body exercising the judicial power of the state”. This Guidance adopts that meaning.

The power can be exercised in “proceedings of any type” that are (a) in public or (b) not open to the general public but “specific categories of person, or specific individuals, who are not taking part in the proceedings are entitled to be present by virtue of provision made by or under any enactment or of being authorised by the court.”

The second category would include youth court proceedings, family proceedings to which the media or researchers are admitted under FPR 27.11(2), and other hearings in private, where the court has allowed a non-participant to attend.”

There is a very good summary of the new powers and related documents over on LexisNexis for those who subscribe.

For non-subscribers you can access the publicly available press release here.

A guide for anyone wanting to observe a court or tribunal hearing can be found here.