Third-Party Contracting Model LegislationApproved by the NCRA Board of Directors on January 19, 2012
Section 1: Purpose
The purpose of this legislation is to ensure the integrity of the record by establishing ethical standards for court reporters and entities that provide court reporting services. Court reporters serve as officers of the court, and both the appearance and the existence of impartiality are no less important for officers who report legal proceedings than they are for the judicial officers and other persons whose responsibilities are integral to the fair and impartial administration of justice.
Section 2: Scope of Jurisdiction
The provisions described in this document apply to any court reporter or entity providing court reporting services conducted in the state.
Businesses or firms providing court reporting services are subject to the same rules, regulations, and statutes that govern individual court reporters.
The provisions apply to any legal proceeding conducted in the state, whether all parties appear in person or by remote means.
Section 3: General Prohibitions
A legal proceeding shall not be reported by a person who is:
- A court reporter or court reporting firm with a contractual relationship with a party or an attorney, representative, agent, or insurer of any party, or which engages in any prohibited actions as defined in Section 4.
- A party to the action.
- A relative, employee, or attorney of one of the parties.
- Someone with a financial interest in the action or its outcome.
- A relative, employee, or attorney of someone with a financial interest in the action or its outcome.
- Before accepting an assignment, the court reporter and/or entity providing court reporting services is obligated to make reasonable efforts to ascertain whether any arrangement exists which is prohibited under this legislation.
A legal proceeding shall include but not be limited to:
- A court proceeding.
- A deposition.
- An administrative hearing.
- An arbitration hearing.
- Examinations under oath.
- Sworn statements.
Section 4: Prohibited Actions
In order to preserve the court reporter’s impartiality, it is prohibited for court reporters or entities that provide court reporting services to engage in any of the following:
- Entering into an oral or written contractual agreement for more than one case, action, or proceeding with any attorney, party to an action, insurance company, third-party administrator, or any other person or entity that has a financial interest in the case, action, or proceeding.
- Giving any economic or other advantage to any party, any party’s attorney, representative, agent, insurer, or employee without offering it to all parties. This includes failing to offer comparable services, including price or credit terms, to all parties or otherwise requiring the court reporter or entity providing court reporting services to provide financial terms or other services that are not offered at the same time and on the same terms to all other parties in the legal proceeding.
- Basing the compensation of the court reporter or entity that provides court reporting services on the outcome of the proceeding or otherwise giving the court reporter or court reporting firm a financial interest in the action. Court reporters or entities providing court reporting services shall not offer or provide court reporting services where payment for those services will be made contingent on the outcome of the action.
- Entering into an agreement for court reporting services that restricts the noticing attorney from using the court reporter or entity providing court reporting services of the attorney’s choosing.
- Including a court reporter or entity providing court reporter services on any list of preferred providers of court reporting services after reaching an agreement specifying prices and other terms upon which future court reporting services will be provided.
- Allowing the format, content, or body of the original transcript to be manipulated in a manner that increases the cost of the transcript.
- Providing additional advocacy or litigation support services including, but not limited to, trial preparation assistance, deposition summaries, and non-published transcript databases.
Section 5:Ensuring Comparable Treatment of All Parties
At any time during or following the conclusion of a legal proceeding, an attorney or a party to that proceeding has the right to an itemized statement of all rates and charges for all services that have been or will be provided by the court reporter or entity providing court reporting services to any party to the litigation.
Such information on prices, terms, and conditions shall be made available in sufficient time prior to the commencement of the proceeding which will allow all parties to have the opportunity to effectively negotiate for any changes necessary to ensure that comparable terms and conditions will be made available to all parties.
Upon request, the governing authority of court reporters and entities that provide court reporting services shall also be provided with an itemized invoice of all rates and charges for services that have been provided.
In order to prevent the shifting of costs from one party to another party, the page rate charged for a copy of the transcript shall not exceed X% of the page rate charged for the original transcript of the legal proceeding.
Section 6: Binding Nature of these Provisions
The provisions of this legislation may not be waived by disclosure, agreement, stipulation, or by any other means for any reason.
Section 7: Exemptions
Governmental entities may, if required by law to do so, obtain court reporting services on a long-term basis through competitive bidding.
Section 8: Penalties
Penalties for violations of these provisions shall include any or all of the following:
- The transcript of the legal proceeding shall be deemed void and ineligible for admission into a court of law or for use or submission in any legal or administrative proceeding.
- Any court reporter or entity that provides court reporting services which willfully violate these prohibitions shall be subject to a fine or sanction by the board or other authority that governs court reporters or entities that provide court reporting services. The fine for a first offense shall be no less than $5,000. The fine for each subsequent violation shall be increased by an additional $2,500 per violation.
- The court reporter or entity providing court reporter services shall be subject to disciplinary proceedings before any administrative body that licenses, certifies, or otherwise regulates court reporters. Potential penalties shall include, but not be limited to, suspension or revocation of the license, registration, or certificate of the firm and/or the court reporter.
Section 9: Effective Date
This legislation shall be applicable to all court reporters and entities that provide court reporting services provided on or after [insert effective date].