The actual Question 'Why do you need to get court records transcribed to find out what was said?' makes no sense to me. How could it be otherwise?
In theory this is total nonsense. It negates the very idea that what's said in court is 'a matter of public record', which even …Gov.UK acknowledges.
When I wrote newspapers, I attended 1,000 or more court hearings. Most were coroner's inquests and who doubts the same rules apply to criminal and civil cases?
At every hearing two or three and sometimes 50 or more colleagues and rivals were very careful to take accurate notes of every word spoken by witness, defendant or lawyer, coroner, judge or magistrate, clerk or anyone else. So careful, none of us had any compunction in asking the most bitter rival to clue us in on something we'd missed, and I never heard of anyone's worst enemy refusing to help.
I mention that to help make clear that unless a judge imposed specific restrictions in a particular case, there would be no procedural reason not to publish every single word… the only problem would be boring the reader!
That was long before - about 2011 - courts generally accepted audio recordings but still the same principles cover audio recordings, stenographers' notes, short-hand writing and any other official record.
What does that leave but the time and technical details involved in transcription? Those, by the way, are broadly similar. The difference is that audio recordings don't, as stenography and short-hand records do, need people to be present beyond a clerk loading up a tape and pushing a button.
How does that not put cost above, for instance truth and justice?
When there's to be an appeal, for instance, might the higher court not expect to be able to rely on a word-by-word account of what went before and would that not rely on a full transcription? Does that not leave two possibilities?
One is that no-one need be charged anything but postage for a transcription that was required by the court…
The other is that every applicant should be charged for any transcription, including all those first required by the court…
Which is least unjust in or of itself, I'm not sure but at the end of the day, charging significant amounts for transcriptions of court hearings turns the idea that what's said in court is 'a matter of public record' into 'a matter for rich people.'