Transcripts and Law Reports 

What is the Difference between a Law report and a Transcript?

JustCite contains links to both Law Reports and Transcripts - often for the same case. Whilst they both have the judgment of the Court, the two types of document have different kinds of information.

It is worth remembering that Transcripts are produced by Court reporters. They are the first record of prcoeedings and are official documents. Whilst they contain a great deal of information, they lack any real analysis, though they are produced much faster. Also, collections of transcripts tend to be a more complete record of proceedings.

Law Reports are published by independent publishers. They use the same judgment as the transcript but are edited to make them easier to read. This editing process will include adding keywords, re-formatting the text and correcting spelling mistakes. Law Reports are selected by publishing houses, so not every case will be reported, which can lead to information gaps.

Here is a list of the main differences.

A comparison of Law Reports and Transcripts

Below is a more detailed analysis with examples.


An example of a transcript

This is the front page of an official transcript. As a formal public record, it contains a lot of useful information about where and when the case was held. Notice that the dates of hearing are given as well as the date of Judgment. This is an official Court of Appeal transcript, which is why it has been given a neutral citation in addition to the Case number.

The details of the transcriber will be found on every transcript and the advocates are listed with their full names. This is the only page of information that is given before the text of the Judgment. This means there is no analysis as to the outcome of the case. However the content of the Judgment itself will be the same regardless of whether it is a transcript or a report.

Law Report

An example of a law report

These are the opening pages from a law report, in this case the Information Law Reports. Notice that the layout has been rearranged to appear more attractive, particularly on the title section although some information has been removed.

Key words describing the areas discussed have been added in italics – making it clear to a practitioner of the reason this case was chosen. There is a summary of the facts, to give some context to the judgment. The reporter has also listed the decisions that the Court made and informs the reader what was held. Finally, there is a list of authority considered within the Judgment.

None of this information should be considered precedent – it is not the words of the Court but rather the interpretation of the reporter. However it is very useful information to have as it aids the reader in digesting the information quickly and helps speed up decision making.

What is a Digest?

Digests are very short summaries of cases – generally including a list of the main points of law. They should not be relied upon as an authority unless the judgment cannot be found anywhere else. This is because digests are not judicial precedent – they are an editorial summary written by a third party.