Scandalising court Law will be reviewed and a decision on whether to scrap it or not will be made in a few weeks.
This law outlines an offence towards the judiciary, which includes publications and statements aimed to ridicule the justice in a way which might bring disrepute to the judicial system or undermine their trust among society.
The reason why this law is at the center of a dispute is because no such case has actually been prosecuted successfully since 1931. In order to deal quickly and efficiently with this matter the Law Commission will open a consultation on the law.
One might be prosecuted under the Scandalising Court Law when acting in an extremely offensive way towards the judicial system or a certain judge, as well as accusing them of corruption. In a case from 1900, a journalist was sued, as he called a judge: “impudent little man in horsehair, a microcosm of conceit and empty-headedness”.
However, today when having in mind the right of free speech and the EU Convention on Human Rights, this law might not be applicable any more. The Law Commission says that if it is being scrapped, there are some other laws, which might work as a replacement, when it comes to offences of this kind. On the other hand some people believe that the judiciary should not receive special protection. For that reason the Law Commission is going to open the consultation and a decision should be made by the 10th of October.
The Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain, was accused of this offence in May 2012. The accusations came because of his memoirs, where he wrote some controversial comments about a judge. However the case was quickly resolved, as Mr. Hain wrote to the Northern Irish Attorney general to clarify the remarks.