A firm of solicitors has apologised to the court and reported itself to the regulator after a recording was taken of a remote hearing without permission.
In JR Farming Limited v Hewitt, the High Court heard that solicitors involved in a fully remote pre-trial review, London-based Enyo Law LLP, had engaged a firm of transcribers to provide a transcript of hearing in April.
The transcript was not made from the court’s own recording and instead the transcribers, Epiq Global, streamed the hearing and took a recording of it.
His Honour Judge Davis-White QC explained that no order had been sought from the court for permission for such transcription. The court was told at almost 5pm the day before the hearing that a transcriber would be one of the participants and Enyo sent the link to the remote hearing to them. It was not until the court was told the transcriber might need a short break that the judge was even aware of their role.
The judge said he was ‘extremely concerned’ about the position and reserved the question of what action to take. In a witness statement, Nic Jones, the solicitor and partner of Enyo with responsibility for the conduct the case, said he did not realise Epiq would be recording anything.
Epiq stated that it was for its client to obtain all necessary consents or orders from the judge and this was clear in its terms and conditions.
The court heard that Enyo had self-reported the matter to the Solicitors Regulation Authority saying it had reconsidered and recirculated internal guidance within the firm. Jones made an immediate full and frank apology to the court, and the judge took no further action other than to send a copy of his ruling to the SRA.
The judge added: ‘I should make clear that by this judgment I do not intend to indicate what course the SRA should take and I am certainly not indicating that the breach in this case was not serious.’
He granted retrospective permission for the recording but warned that others should not expect leniency from the court in future. ‘Lawyers should be in no doubt as to the requirements for using live transcript services, whether the hearing is fully remote, hybrid or face to face. The court is unlikely to take the course that I have done in the future were the requirement to obtain court permission for a real-time transcript not to be observed.’