Court papers full of errors due to difficulties with Scottish accent

COURT cases could be thrown into chaos because workers employed to take notes can't understand the Scots accent, it was claimed yesterday.

Leading lawyers have complained that official court papers are littered with mistakes because English stenographers are baffled by names and language used north of the Border.

They said Scottish names such as Barlinnie have been wrongly transcribed as "Barrel Annie" and that words such as "libelled" and "fanciful" have been replaced with "liable" and "fanciable".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was claimed the mistakes and omissions could affect the outcome of appeals and lawyers have complained to Scotland's Lord Advocate Eilish Angiolini.

Donald Findlay QC said: "The transcriptions are bloody awful. There are clearly problems (understanding] the accent. There are bits that are either missing or plainly wrong.

"They know nothing of the local topography, which leads to some amazing phonetic translations of places. I would have thought it's not beyond the wit of man to check place names on the internet."

Gordon Jackson QC, the former Labour MSP for Glasgow Govan, said: "I have heard judges make disparaging remarks about the quality of work."

Gerry Considine, vice-chairman of the Glasgow Bar Association, added: "There's a lot of disquiet about the mistakes being made. It appears they can't make out the accents."

Legal workers said problems began when the Scottish Court service awarded the work to Devon-based Mendip Media Group in 2006.

Mendip admitted there had been problems but blamed the mistakes on the "atrocious" quality of the recordings being taken in court, but said transcribers based in Scotland had been hired to avoid problems understanding the dialect.

A Scottish Courts Service spokeswoman said: "We are upgrading our recording equipment to improve the quality of recordings, but there are still some quality issues regarding tape transcriptions and these are being addressed with Mendip."