It has come to our attention that the rates charged by court reporters for copies of transcripts has been fluctuating wildly between court reporting firms around the country. The following is a question that comes up from time to time. I thought I would answer the question here so that you too can tell if you are being overcharged for a copy of a transcript.
Q. I think I’ve been overcharged for a copy of a transcript. How much should a copy really cost?
To answer this question, let’s first get a better understanding of what goes into a page rate for transcripts.
How A Transcript is Ordered
When one party orders the transcript of the record, whether this be in court, a hearing or a deposition, the court reporter will prepare a written record of the testimony. The court reporter will charge a fee per page of transcription.
The first attorney who orders the transcript will be charged a fee for the “original” transcript. Other parties may order copies of the transcript for a lesser page rate after the original has been ordered by a party.
How Court Reporters Charge for Transcripts
Some may ask, why don’t you charge the same for all transcripts, whether they are the first transcript or copies of the first?
The answer is sometimes only one party will order the transcript. The court reporter needs to charge enough so, in the event that only the original transcript is ordered, the fee received fairly compensates the court reporter at a minimum level for the time spent transcribing.
It has long been the practice to charge less for copies of transcripts. Since the original has already been produced, producing a copy requires less time to prepare. Most court reporting firms base their pricing on the premise that an original will be ordered and one copy will be ordered.
Industry Standards – Transcript Copy Rates
In Michigan, court reporters are required to follow a two/thirds rule, i.e., the Revised Judicature Act of 1961 (excerpt), Act 236 of 1961, 600.1491, Section 1491 (2) states: “A court reporter, court recorder, stenomask reporter, or owner of a court reporting firm shall not do any of the following: (b) Charge more than two/thirds of the price of an original transcript for a copy of that transcript.”
Let’s say an attorney orders the original transcript which will be 100 pages when finished. Typical costs for originals in our area is between $3.25 per page and $3.75 per page. That means the attorney will be charged $325 to $375 for the original transcript pages.
Following the two/thirds rule, a page fee for a copy would be $2.15 to $2.75 per page. This means the copy of the 100-page transcript will cost $215 to $275.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Been Overcharged?
In recent years, it has come to our attention that some national-level court reporting companies are not adhering to the two/thirds rule. If you are buying a transcript copy from one of these companies, you could be paying a much higher rate for your copy than you would with a company that adheres to the two/thirds rule.
Our advice would be the next time you are ordering a copy of a transcript, ask what the page rate is for your copy and ask what is the page rate paid by the party who ordered the original transcript. If the copy rate is higher than two/thirds the price of the original transcript, ask the court reporting firm to lower your rate to meet the two/thirds rule.
In Michigan, if you feel you have not been charged fairly for a transcript, you can file a complaint with the State Court Administrative Office. The complaint must be in writing and should indicate the court reporting firm that isn’t adhering to MCL600.1491(b).
To learn more about court reporting pricing and costs, download our guide, “How Much Should I Expect to Pay for Court Reporting Services.”