Yes and No
Yes is the quick answer but no to a number of specific courts, particularly in England and Wales.
Court transcription has traditionally been a monopolised service that can only be provided in England and Wales by a government approved transcription service.
Tendering Catch 22
Every three years or so the Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) puts up for tender the transcription service procurement process and awards specific contracts to companies to provide the service on a lot by lot basis.
The lots were traditionally divided up into geographical regions and there were quite a few of these, which meant that there were a number of providers.
However, even though the government talk about opening up their procurement exercises to SMEs and small businesses, the current tender excluded 95% of transcription companies because there was a requirement to have a turnover of a certain size that most of us simply are not operating at. This year we estimated that in order to even stand a chance of being considered for a transcription tender to do the court work you would need a turnover of at least £1 million. As most transcription companies are smaller sized SMEs this would be virtually impossible. And so, we were unable to bid for one of the lots under the contract.
During the tendering exercise this time round (2020) the procurement officer hinted at the courts service using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to transcribe the hearings in future and getting rid of the need for any transcription.
Pay Through the Nose
This means that if you need a court transcription you have to contact the court the case was heard in if your hearing was a magistrates court, crown court, high court, court of appeal or supreme court decision. The court will provide you with the price for the transcription and put you in touch with the outsource provider to complete this. You have no option but to go with this provider, regardless of your astonishment at the astronomical cost.
The costs are astronomical because the court sets the price of the transcription and there are no free market principles applied. You cannot get access to the recording to forward on to other companies to complete the transcription from the recording at a competitive price.
For example, TP Transcription Limited would almost certainly be undercutting the government approved prices for court work by about 40%, if not more, but we are unable to access the recordings in order to do this.
Inquests and Other Forms of Court Work
If your court hearing was an inquest, an employment tribunal, a tribunal of another form or an off shore (ie not UK) court hearing we can usually assist. Over the years we have worked with numerous clients with court hearings around the world in various tribunals, hearings or arbitration matters. We are more than happy to complete recordings from the various pieces of transcription software used by courts including FTR (For The Record) and other military grade secure systems.
Court Work = Straightforward Work
Court transcription work is quite straightforward and never usually presents too much of a problem for anybody completing it. The recording tends to be clear and concise and fairly easy to follow for any transcriber and so, the work is usually simply a matter of listening through and completing. Unfortunately, the government and HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service) have put up a rather large barrier to anybody being able to access the recordings in order to complete these transcriptions. If your matter was a magistrates, crown court or high court hearing then you will need to contact the court concerned and shell out rather a lot of cash to obtain the transcription.
If you have any other form of court work you require assistance with for transcription, including police station interviews and enquiries prior to any court proceedings. Please complete our quote request form as we would be delighted to assist.
Recordings for Use in Court Proceedings
One final point – if you require a recording to be transcribed that is being used in court proceedings then this is very different and we are definitely able to assist with these. We are more than happy to provide you with a certificated copy of a recording to confirm that we consider the transcription to be a fully accurate record of the recording and for this to be used in court. It is the court proceedings themselves that we are unable to assist with transcription for.