As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts and of court buildings is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, however, I have had enquiries made with the Courts Service.
The Courts Service have informed me that any party to a court case can bring an application to the presiding judge to access the digital audio record of proceedings. The procedure for bringing an application in each jurisdiction is set out in the following Rules of Court:-
- District Court Rules- Order 35
- Circuit Court Rules- Order 67A
- Superior Court Rules- Order 123
These rules also set out the terms on which such access may be granted. While a party to a case may apply to the court to access the recording, the granting of access and the terms under which such access is granted is a matter for the court.
The Courts Service does not record the length of time between an application being lodged, the date of the Court application and the release of a record of proceedings. However, in general, once a court grants such an application, the copy record is produced on a priority basis and sent to the person who has applied for it within a matter of days.
In some courts, the digital audio recording system does not record precisely when witnesses speak. Consequently, where parties apply to access recordings in these courts, it will require a staff member to listen back to a recording of hours of court proceedings. In this event, there can be a slight delay in the preparation of the copy of the record.