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Digital transcription technology introduced

Hon Rick Barker
Minister for Courts

6 March 2008

Digital transcription technology introduced to the High Court

Digital audio technology for recording and transcribing evidence has been introduced by the High Court in Wellington and Auckland. It is estimated that this technology will reduce court hearing time by between 20-30%, which will assist case throughput.

"For the Record or FTR, provides a high quality recording of the evidence which is then relayed to transcription staff located outside of the courtroom to be typed up as the trial proceeds. This is another demonstration of the Labour-led government's drive to modernise the court system to improve access to justice for all New Zealanders," Court's Minister, Rick Barker said.

"The evidence given at a recent high profile murder trial at Wellington High Court was transcribed using the new technology and this was a key factor in reducing the length of the trial from an expected eight weeks to four weeks. The trial time was cut in half and I am certain that this was appreciated by all involved.

"This new technology makes the experience of giving evidence easier for witnesses and a better experience for everyone in the courtroom. It also means trials can proceed more quickly. FTR allows witnesses to speak at a normal, uninterrupted speed and the transcript is printed in the courtroom within 30 minutes of the evidence being given.

“New technology is enabling courts to work more efficiently for the benefit of all court users”, Mr Barker said.

Although digital evidence and recording technology has been used in the District Court for some years, until now, its use in the High Court has been limited to two courtrooms in Auckland. 17 High Court courtrooms and 20 additional District Court courtrooms will be progressively equipped with FTR over the next two years, as well as upgrading the FTR systems already being used in the District Court.

To further improve efficiency, transcription services are moving to being nationally managed. Mr Barker opened Transcription Service Centres in Wellington and Auckland late last year. From June, these Service Centres will begin being linked to local court based transcription staff across the country. Access to a larger, national team of transcription staff means courts will be better resourced to process increasing workloads.

ENDS

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