The Law Commission is the statutory independent body created by the Law Commissions Act 1965 to keep the law under review and to recommend reform where it is needed. The aim of the Commission is to ensure that the law is:
We have published our first report on contempt of court, making recommendations for reform that include:
• introducing a new statutory offence for jurors who intentionally seek information beyond the evidence presented in court
• creating a new statutory exemption to contempt for content published prior to proceedings becoming active, and
• providing a broader defence for jurors who disclose potential miscarriages of justice or participate in carefully controlled academic research.
The law governing contempt of court is vast and was written long before the age of the internet. Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC says: “We are recommending a package of reforms that would strike a balance between the public interest in the administration of justice, the defendant’s right to a fair trial and the rights of jurors. If implemented, our reforms would give jurors greater clarity about what is expected of them and maintain the public’s faith in trial by jury by helping to ensure that the defendant is tried only on the evidence heard in court.”