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Transcription for the legal sector

Why do legal professionals need verbatim transcription? Verbatim transcription is all about pinpoint precision and accuracy, and the one industry that this complements perfectly is the legal profession. Lawyers need solid, reliable documentation of aural evidence, with minimal deviation from the original source.

What is verbatim transcription?

Verbatim transcripts differ from regular readouts in that they contain every word and utterance. This includes all verbal filler (words such as like, actually, kind of, sort of etc), stutters, hesitation, interjections from other speakers and false starts. Keeping all these non verbal elements shows the intent and deeper meaning behind words, and provides vital context to past events.

So where are transcriptions needed in the legal context?

Transcriptions are needed for a variety of legal purposes. Here’s a non exhaustive list:
  • Depositions
  • Legal briefs
  • Pre-inquest hearings
  • Witness interviews and statements
  • Arbitrations and mediations
Audio recordings are a preferred medium for legal evidence. Why? Because they of course offer the most accurate, objective and irrefutable record. In the UK all audio recordings are currently banned during court proceedings and within all court precincts in accordance with Section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. A notable exception to the rule is the UK Supreme Court which has filmed all its proceedings since its inception.  But there are signs that change may be on the way. Since 2013, proceedings at the Court of Appeal have been broadcast, and perhaps most significantly, cameras were allowed into crown court sentencings for the first time in July. Even with ongoing recording restrictions, verbatim transcripts of other aural legal evidence are still useful. This is because they capture subliminal meaning in a way non verbatim transcripts can’t, by including non verbal noise. Verbatim edits are more authentic because they prioritise accuracy over grammatical clarity, meaning that words are recorded as they are said rather than how they read best. At the end of the day, speech conveys so much more than bare language. It indicates someone’s feelings, undertones and motives.  In fact one of the most significant features in speech captured on a verbatim transcript is an absence of it, in other words a pause. The length of time someone takes to think about something can indicate a variety of things, such as confidence and mood. Without these subtle but important details, the difference between someone denying something and pausing and then denying something would clearly be missed.

Final thoughts

As we move towards a world of more open justice and legal transparency, recordings and therefore verbatim transcripts will become more important than ever in evidence gathering. For high quality and reliable legal transcription, view our competitive packages here.


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