Often people will ask me whether the Bar and the Courtroom exchanges are really like it is portrayed on television in programmes like ‘Silk’ or ‘Judge John Deed’ and, for those of you old enough to remember, ‘Crown Court’. Since most episodes have to fit in to a one hour slot, there has to be some editing and dramatic license for sure, as a series of one hour episodes showing various directions/interim hearings before a District Judge in Boghampton Family/County Court would not attract a large (or perhaps any) audience and rightly so; sometimes even the advocates want to switch off.
Of course some programmes featuring ‘real’ cases are around. Judge Judy, for example, has attracted a significant following but only for those cases for which the participants seek their fifteen minutes of fame. The format has now arrived in this country with Judge Rinder; a practising Criminal Barrister who has branched out into the entertainment world and presides over his own daytime television court.
However, as we are all aware, there is a move to make justice in the family sphere more open and to have fewer hearings in private where, thus far, in the majority of cases, everything has been done behind closed doors. In the lower courts it has not extended (yet) to filming and broadcasting the proceedings but maybe only time will tell. In doing some research recently, I came across the streaming of the Supreme Court proceedings in Sharland v Sharland and Gohil v Gohil which was heard over two days in June 2015 and a decision is awaited. To say I was hooked may be a tad too extreme but I did spend a considerable length of time (research time of course) watching the submissions of the advocates and the pack of Supreme Court Judges stalking and then mauling them. The advocates, despite being given a hard time and some would say a good kicking, still had to respond with due deference and respect.
I don’t know how popular a broadcast on mainstream television would be but for any lawyer who has been on the receiving end of a verbal attack from a judge or has observed such safely from the other side, the streaming of actual proceedings does have that feel good factor and isn’t that what entertainment is about?
If you want to have a peek yourself then have a look at www.supremecourt.uk; click on a case and watch at your leisure and you will see that even the good and great have good days and bad days and good points and bad points. There are plenty of popular and not so popular areas of interest for viewers; as well as the Sharland case, also available to view is the appeal regarding parking charges (ParkingEye Limited v Beavis).
May be one day when we arrive at Court we won’t be asking for the code to the Robing Room but how we get to the Green Room.
Break a leg!