Entering building with sun ray shining through.

Going viral: Supreme Court on YouTube

06 February 2013

It has now been two weeks since the launch of the UK Supreme Court's YouTube channel.[1]

The summary[2] of the judgment[3] on the scope of legal professional privilege, delivered by Lord Neuberger, was one of the first to be uploaded immediately after having been delivered in court*.  It, together with other judgment summaries delivered that day, joined a back catalogue from the previous legal term.

Quite properly, the publicity and comment surrounding the decision on privilege entirely overshadowed the fact that its summary was one of the first to be preserved on YouTube as well as on the pages of the law reports.  This may serve as reassurance to those who have feared that the YouTube channel will weaken, and cheapen, the judicial process.   The Supreme Court Justices appear, so far at least, not to have fallen victim to a Nick Clegg style mash-up.

Whether the archive footage will prove to be popular remains to be seen.  The footage of Lord Neuberger's summary in the Prudential case has already attracted over 1,500 views.  All other summaries have been viewed at least a few hundred times and some considerably more.

In his blog[4] on the Guardian website, Adam Wagner sets out a strong argument for the service to be extended to archive footage of full hearings.  Although the Supreme Court has no immediate plans to offer this, it has not been ruled out.  Much, it seems, will depend on the success of the current venture.

There can be no doubt that the Supreme Court's other uses of technology to widen accessibility have been hugely successful.  The court has almost 30,000 followers on twitter[5] and the live[6] streaming of its proceedings (in collaboration with Sky News) attracts an average of 25,000 unique users a month.

R (on the application of Prudential plc and another) v Special Commissioner of income Tax and another) [2013] UKSC 1

[1]  http://www.youtube.com/user/UKSupremeCourt

[2] http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2010_0215_PressSummary.pdf

[3] http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2010_0215_Judgment.pdf

[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2013/jan/21/supreme-court-youtube-open-justice

[5] https://twitter.com/UKSupremeCourt

[6] http://news.sky.com/info/supreme-court