Protecting the record
When someone’s freedom and livelihood are at stake, there is no room for a poor quality record. Judges, lawyers and clients need to feel confident that an accurate and impartial verbatim record is being made. You should always use an accredited verbatim reporter.
There is no substitute for the human element that court reporters bring to the court room. Verbatim court reporters:
Certify the accuracy and impartiality of the record, and give evidence to those points, if necessary;
Differentiate between evidence and submissions against background noises;
Ensure that off-the-record conversations are not mistakenly inserted into the record;
Clarify legal and technical terminology;
Use technology and back-up systems effectively to protect the record.
A verbatim reporter will speak up to let the parties know if there is a problem, with a witness either not speaking up, or two or more people over-talking. A digital audio recording has neither sight nor sound. It may not be known until days or weeks later that the recording, always assuming it was switched on at all, has been rendered useless by whispering witnesses, or enthusiastic parties over-talking produces a transcript littered with “inaudible” – usually at the most crucial moments. What saving there, when the whole proceedings have to be reheard?
Court reporters ensure that no time is wasted during trials or when transcripts are needed. They can provide unofficial transcripts on paper or in electronic formats virtually instantly. Portions of verbatim notes can be read back to clarify queries during the course of proceedings.
Court Reporting as a Career
The Institute’s booklet issued in 1990 just as the push was on for machine shorthand and CAT (Computer Aided Transcription) the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern wrote the foreword which we shamelessly reproduce here:
HOUSE OF LORDS SWIA OPW
Court Reporters have long been an important part of the legal system, adhering to high standards of skill and responsibility for which they are well regarded.
At a time of change throughout our legal system, some things remain essential, and one of these is the verbatim record for certain court proceedings. Shorthand writers are showing themselves well able to respond to the opportunities offered by new technologies which are necessary to keep pace with the increasingly demanding task presented by inexorably rising workloads and improvements in productivity in courts themselves.
These factors and the introduction of computers to aid in the transcription of shorthand notes combine to provide a potentially challenging, rewarding and fascinating career for young men and women who are prepared to add to their own intelligence and enterprise the technical skills which will enable them to assume the place of the shorthand writer in our courts. I hope, therefore, that there will be no shortage of such people keen to take up verbatim reporting and play an important part in maintaining the high standard of the administration of justice.
Mackay of Clashfern, C.
BIVR members continue to offer those skills to the same high standards, using modern technology, today.