Practice Direction: Access to Audio Recordings of Proceedings

CivilCross JurisdictionalFamilyPractice Direction

1. This Practice Direction is issued in order to clarify the practice and procedure governing access to CD or Digital Audio recordings of court proceedings. It applies to civil and family proceedings in all courts in England and Wales.

2. Where court proceedings, including judgments, are recorded by tape or other mechanical or digital means there is generally no right, either for a party or non-party, to listen to or receive a copy of such a recording. This is to minimise the risk of misuse of such recordings.

3. A person who has obtained a copy of the official transcript of proceedings or a judgment may apply, upon payment of the charges authorised by any scheme in force, for permission to listen to or receive a copy of an audio recording of the proceedings, the judgment, or a part thereof.

4. Applications should be made to the judge hearing the proceedings or, if the proceedings are taking place in the Court of Appeal or a Divisional Court, to the presiding judge.

5. Subject to paragraph 6, permission will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, for example where there is cogent evidence that the official transcript may have been wrongly transcribed.

6. Permission will usually be granted to official law reporters, i.e., individuals who hold a Senior Courts qualification for the purposes of section 115 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, if they require access to a recording in order to ensure that they can report a judgment with complete accuracy.

7. Permission may be granted subject to such conditions as the court considers necessary to protect recordings of confidential or legally privileged conversations between parties and their lawyers.

8. This Direction is made by the Lord Chief Justice, following consultation with the Master of the Rolls and President of the Family Division. It is issued in accordance with the procedure laid down in Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.

Lord Thomas LCJ
14 February 2014