NSW Govt relaxes tablet, smartphone ban for courts

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NSW Govt relaxes tablet, smartphone ban for courts
Not disappearing from NSW courts forever...

Lawyers, journalists escape.

The NSW Government has softened a proposed ban on smartphone and tablet use in the state's courts by exempting lawyers and journalists from the changes.

The ban, first revealed in a speech made by state Attorney-General Greg Smith SC late last year, raised fears that lawyers could be prevented from communicating with colleagues outside the court, and that it could spell the end of tweeting from cases.

However, Smith said that the intention of the legislative changes was "not to disadvantage journalists or lawyers who are just doing their jobs".

"The prohibition is aimed at stopping people with malicious intentions from disrupting the work of our courts and prejudicing the orderly administration of justice," he said (pdf).

"We are leading the way on this issue and other jurisdictions are also beginning to grapple with [it]."

Smith indicated a single incident had forced the legislative change. He indicated in his November 2012 speech that the Government wanted to prevent devices being used for communication between witnesses.

"The amendment aims to cover new technology which can 'transmit' proceedings without recording them," he said.

Since the proposal had gained more widespread attention, Smith said the Government had consulted with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and the Law Society and Bar Association to bridge perceived overreach of the planned changes.

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