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I am doing self study of Law. My law book says that it is a very good idea to go to court and see how it is done live. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 the courts in my town are not open to public.

I thought to look on the internet, but I could not find any real video of a court trial nor a system where they are recorded and kept.

My question is: Is it possible to get videos of real trials in UK and if so, is there a place to find them?

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Yes, you can watch Supreme Court trials. You have three options:

  1. Access live videos of cases as they happen.
  2. Access recordings of hearings which have already taken place for current cases.
  3. Access recordings of cases which have already been decided.

These will be some of the best cases you can possibly watch due to the fact that the Supreme Court is the highest domestic court in the UK. This means that (a) they will be considering cases which raise important points of law or have significant consequences, and (b) the quality of the arguments from the parties' solicitors/barristers will tend to be higher than in other courts.

For the same reasons, you should be conscious that there will be gaps in your learning: (a) you will not be seeing more typical "bread and butter" type cases which are resolved in lower courts and more likely to be relevant to your career, (b) you will be less likely to learn the kinds of mistakes that lawyers can make in court and how the courts react to these, (c) as the Supreme Court is a court of appeal, you will be less likely to see oral evidence or fresh evidence, although this can still happen at the court's discretion (CPR 52.21(2)) if it is in line with the overriding objective (CPR 1.1) and the principles established in Ladd v Marshall [1954] 1 WLR 1489 as modified by Terluk v Berezovsky (No.2) [2011] EWCA Civ 1534.

But I assume you will be supplementing your studies with more traditional sources (books, statutes, and cases) so this should not be a big problem.

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    I think you've hit the nail firmly on the head. Watching Supreme Court cases will prepare him extremely poorly for any sort of realistic career in law. 99.9999% of the work carried on in courts up and down the land law is nothing like what you see there.
    – Richard
    Jul 21 at 21:16
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    The Supreme Court is only an appeals court so you will not see the normal process of evidence and testimony that happens in a court of first instance.
    – Dale M
    Jul 21 at 22:34
  • @DaleM Thanks, I had been planning to edit in something to that effect when I was next at a PC. I've done so, with a qualification.
    – JBentley
    Jul 22 at 8:57
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As pointed out in the other answer, hearings in the Supreme Court are live streamed and recorded. This has also occurred in the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) since November 2018. However, the hearings in these courts are not "trials."

Ordinarily the open justice principle requires that the public be permitted to observe all court proceedings by attending in person. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many courts are upholding this principle by permitting members of the public to access the video conferences in which hearings are taking place. Information about how to do this is generally available from the relevant court's daily cause list.

For example, the daily cause list for the Royal Courts of Justice currently says:

Requests from the media and others, including legal bloggers in the County Court at Central London, to attend a hearing should be made to the County Court at Central London enquiries.centrallondon.countycourt@justice.gov.uk or by calling 0300 123 5577.

Arrangements will then be made for you to attend.

When considering the use of telephone and video technology the judiciary will have regard to the principles of open justice.

The court may exclude observers where necessary to secure the proper administration of justice.

While the courts are open to the public, there are restrictions on reporting what occurs. For example, at a trial for sexual offences you might see the complainant give evidence and hear others identify them by name, but victims of sexual offences are entitled to anonymity outside the courtroom. Creating your own audio or video recording of court proceedings is also prohibited. By limiting live stream access to people who request access to individual cases, the court is able to ensure that these restrictions are communicated to and enforceable against members of the public who attend court.

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