Although a recent settlement with salaried court reporters will allow the government to move forward with its plan to contract out certain elements of the transcription process, many in the industry remain confused about how the new system will work, says Toronto court reporter Kimberley Neeson.

Law Times reports that the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Ministry of the Attorney General have reached a settlement to resolve a dispute about the contracting out of court transcription work. As previously reported, last year OPSEU “accused the province of being in violation of the collective agreement by not applying it to court reporters who prepare and certify transcripts.”

The deal will allow the ministry to move forward with a new model for the preparation and certification of court transcripts, starting in June.

According to Law Times, “salaried court reporters will record proceedings but independent court transcriptionists will do the transcription phase of the work.” Transcriptionists will be selected from a list, with parties placing a transcript order directly with the authorized transcriptionist.

Neeson, owner of Neeson & Associates Court Reporting and Captioning Inc., says concerns she voiced last year – about how the separation of the in-court recording of proceedings from the preparation of transcripts could affect the record – still remain.

“The ministry still has not published a list of ‘approved’ transcribers. The system seems to be in disarray and the users of the system are still confused by how all of this will work. And we are concerned about the record, because previous experiences with testing of the digital audio recording (DAR)/transcriber model have failed abysmally, with errors in context, spelling, and syntax coupled with poor audio in some locations, remains, even today,” she says.

Given the ministry’s move towards full implementation of the DAR/transcriber model, Neeson says it makes sense that they would want to settle the matter with OPSEU, allowing those who fall under the agreement to settle their claims and move on.

“However, it doesn’t change the fact that all of our court reporters, and particularly I speak of the highly skilled shorthand reporters who have worked in court for many, many years, are unable to provide their services because their only choice is this: make a record using the DAR system, or leave the ministry. The shorthand method of reporting must now be left at the door for those who work with the ministry,” she adds.

One positive aspect to the changes, says Neeson, may be the fact that parties who can afford to bring in their own court reporters may now do so, thereby providing choice in the marketplace.

“In that scenario, those parties will be able to avail themselves of the latest technology and efficiencies in the creation of the record that has not been widely available before,” she says.

However, she adds, this does create a two-tiered system.

“I would think on a significant criminal case, for example, where the stakes are high, access to an excellent record provided in real time, etc., should be available as well,” says Neeson.

View the original article on Advocate Daily