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Senator


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Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter)

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Snippet Contents:

I propose to take Questions Nos. 538 and 539 together.
As the Deputy will be aware the courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions, and the conduct of any case is a matter entirely for the presiding judge.
All Court records, including recordings of court proceedings, are under the control of the presiding Judge, as provided for in section 65(3) of the Court Officers Act, 1926. As I previously informed the Deputy in response to Parliamentary Questions No. 444 and 445 of 25 June 2013 and No. 897 to 899 of 16 July 2013, the relevant Rules of the District Court, Circuit Court and Superior Courts (S.I. Numbers 99/2013, 100/2013 and 101/2013) came into effect on 8 April 2013. The instruments regulate the procedures whereby parties or other persons wishing to have access to records of court proceedings, including audio recordings, may apply to the court concerned for access to such records. The instruments also set out the terms on which such access may be granted. A party to a case may apply to the court to access the recording however, the granting of access and the terms under which such access is granted is a matter for the court. In common with all court rules these instruments are available on the Courts Service website.
Stenography services have now been replaced by the Digital Audio Recording system which enable the provision of high quality transcripts from the digital recording of the court proceedings. Where a transcript is prepared for a case in the Court of Criminal Appeal it is in the first instance reviewed by the Judge who presided over the original trial and is approved by the presiding Judge before release to the parties for the appeal.
Where the accuracy of a transcript is disputed, it would be a matter for the party to raise the issue either at the appeal hearing or with the office of the Court of Criminal Appeal in advance of the appeal hearing. All recordings of proceedings are centrally stored and where a dispute arises, the transcript can be checked against the original recording for accuracy.
The position in regard to civil proceedings is that any stenographers that appear in the civil courts are there at the request of the parties. They are paid for by the parties and the Courts Service has no function in relation to them. The accuracy of a transcript in such cases is a matter for the parties.