What is a reporter?
The term “court reporter” is frequently used to describe what are known in B.C. as “official or authorized reporters.” Reporters conduct examinations for discovery in the B.C. Supreme Court (BCSC) which is a process where parties can question one another to understand the other's view of what happened in the case. The reporter administers an oath prior to discovery, takes notes of the proceedings, and prepares a transcript.
The Ministry of Attorney General ensures reporters meet qualification standards to perform these services.
There are approximately 200 official and authorized reporters in the province. The list of individuals who perform these services and have signed an agreement with the Province.
Note: a court reporter is not a journalist or member of the media who reports on court events.
Official reporters can conduct examinations for discovery in B.C. Supreme Court for civil and family proceedings and prepare a transcript of the discovery.
Official reporters must hold a certificate of proficiency in machine shorthand reporting attesting to a speed of not less than 200 words per minute from a training body recognized by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). They must pass a criminal record check and not have been previously discharged from their position.
An official reporter who meets the qualification standards may sign an agreement with the Province. By doing so, their name will be added to the List of Authorized and Official Reporters.
Authorized reporters can conduct examinations for discovery in BCSC for civil and family proceedings and prepare a transcript of the discovery.
In addition, authorized reporters may be hired by a party to attend a proceeding before a justice, master or registrar of the BCSC to record the proceedings in machine shorthand and prepare any transcript requested by the party. Authorized reporters may also prepare transcripts of BCSC proceedings in which they were not in attendance.
Authorized reporters must pass a criminal record check, not have been previously discharged from their position, and must also either:
- Have 1,000 hours of work experience performing the functions of an official reporter. This experience may include work outside of B.C. before a court or tribunal within two of the immediately past five years; OR
- Hold certification as a real time reporter with NCRA and have at least 500 hours of work experience performing the functions of an official reporter within two of the past five years.
An authorized reporter who meets the qualification standards must enter into an agreement with the Province before they can perform the duties of an authorized reporter and have their name added to the List of Authorized and Official Reporters.
Reporters can be hired by contacting any of the individuals listed on the List of Authorized and Official Reporters. Parties may also hire Official Reporters who are not on the list, however the reporter will not have entered an agreement with the Province which requires the official reporter to follow additional security and privacy measures or training. In these cases, the hiring party is encouraged to contact the Province to verify the reporter’s qualifications.
The Ministry ensures reporter credentials meet qualification standards. Only individuals who have had their qualifications approved are able to provide this service in B.C. The Ministry does not supervise or express preference or endorsement for any reporter.
Fees are established by the individual reporter or court reporting firm.
The British Columbia Shorthand Reporter Association (BCSRA) is a non-profit, professional association for court reporters, Communications Access Realtime Translation providers, and broadcast captioners in the province. The BCSRA’s Board of Examiners follow NCRA testing standards in administering examinations for real time reporter designations, certificates of proficiency, and certificates of achievement.
In instances where the Ministry needs clarity about an applicant’s qualifications, the BCSRA assists the applicant and the Ministry by providing further information. For new graduates who haven’t received a certificate of proficiency from their program, the BCSRA can verify their credentials.
If a person has a complaint against a reporter who was engaged through a court reporting firm, they should contact the court reporting firm to resolve the issue.
A person may file a complaint against a reporter by submitting the complaint to the Ministry: CSBreporters@gov.bc.ca. The complaint must:
- Be in writing;
- Be signed by the person making the complaint;
- Contain the name of the reporter who is the subject of the complaint;
- Include the nature of the complaint;
- Provide any supporting information or documentation to substantiate the complaint.
When the complaint is received, the Ministry will acknowledge its receipt and undertake a review to determine the appropriate course of action. If there is insufficient information, the Ministry may ask the complainant for additional information.
Complaints are an opportunity to improve services. The goal is to find an appropriate and fair resolution. While most complaints will be resolved within 45 days, others involving complex issues may take longer.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, the resolution may include any combination of the following:
- Issuance of a cautionary letter to the reporter;
- Direction to the reporter who was the subject of the complaint; and
- Where appropriate, a direction regarding a change in practice issued to all official and/or authorized reporters.
If, in reviewing the complaint, the complaint is substantiated and any of the following circumstances apply, the reporters name may be removed from the List of Official Reporters and Authorized Reporters and their agreement with the Ministry may be terminated if:
- The nature of the complaint is serious;
- There have been an excessive number of substantiated complaints;
- There is a pattern of substantiated complaints ;
- There is serious failure to comply with terms of the agreement;
- There have been an excessive number of reported errors in transcripts including not filing within prescribed delivery time frames or following format in BC Court Transcription Manual.
Further, if the compliant substantiates that the reporter has been discharged for a cause that renders the person unfit to perform the functions and duties of an official or authorized reporter or has not reported a new conviction for a criminal offence, the reporter will be removed from the List of Official Reporters and Authorized Reporters and their agreement with the Ministry terminated.
* Official Reporter applicants may choose not to enter an agreement with the Province and can still perform the duties of an Official Reporter, but their name will not be added to the Ministry’s publicly posted list.