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Daithí Mac Síthigh

Contempt of court is a doctrine that has long faced challenges relating to changes in the media. The interest of the press in court proceedings, and the evolution of an often undeferential media, makes it a significant issue of which any sensible editor should be aware. Nonetheless, contempt is facing a number of quite substantial challenges in relation to social media. Indeed, even where contempt has been placed on a statutory basis, the specific language used may lead to doubts as to the application of the law to particular situations (particularly where it contemplates or refers to conventional structures of publishing and broadcasting). In this chapter, I outline some of the challenges, drawing both on case law and on the recent work of the Law Commission (England and Wales), the Australian Law Reform Commission, and the New Zealand Law Commission. Keywords: contempt of court; criminal law; jury trial; freedom of expression; Law Commission