Free court transcripts for rape victims

Pilot scheme to improve access to justice.

Victims in rape and serious sexual assault cases in Scotland will be the first in the UK to have access to transcripts from their court cases free of charge.

The year-long pilot, commencing this week (01/03), will see complainers whose cases are heard in the High Court be eligible to apply for transcripts of what was said in court.

Justice Secretary Angela Constance said:  

“We want to support victims and ensure we have a trauma-informed justice system. We have heard from victims of serious sexual assaults that the whole court process can be very traumatic and it can be difficult to take in what is said in court at the time. Being able to obtain transcripts, where victims can go over exactly what was said in court in their own time, can help their recovery.

“Victims have said currently the costs of paying for transcripts can be prohibitive so our pilot will provide £100,000 funding for court transcripts in these High Court cases. We will also continue to work with the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service to see how the application of new technology might help minimise the cost of producing transcripts for all those who wish to access them.

“The pilot, along with the proposed reforms in the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill are aimed at improving sexual offence victims’ experience of the justice system so they can have confidence in it.”

Rape Crisis Scotland Chief Executive Sandy Brindley said:

“Accessing justice should never have a price tag. This pilot means that more survivors will be able to see, in black and white, exactly what happened at the trial of their case, something many survivors are currently left without after their case has concluded.

“For too long, to access transcripts, survivors were forced to pay prices that were simply out of the reach of many. This announcement is testament to the tireless campaigning on this issue from survivors and our thanks go to them.”

Survivor and justice reform campaigner Ellie Wilson said:

“The introduction of the pilot is extremely welcome, and will help to ensure transparency in the justice process and accountability within the legal profession. Survivors should not be priced out of accessing vital data that is relevant to their recovery journey. 

“Scotland has the opportunity to lead the way in ensuring justice is open, fair, and accountable. This will make a real difference to survivors and take away an unnecessary and traumatic hurdle in their justice journey. I look forward to remaining in dialogue with the Scottish Government to ensure the pilot becomes permanent.”

Campaigner Hannah Stakes said:

“Finally, after half a decade I will receive the documentation that details the two most harrowing incidents in my life - the trial being the worst. Access to these transcripts is a basic human right. This is my information; my life, my story, my body and my DNA. They are a copy of the truth without an agenda and evidence of how severely the system fails victims of sexual assault.

“I want to express my gratitude to the Justice Committee for listening to me back in 2021. This is a vital step towards a fairer and more transparent system."


Cases that began on or after 31 December 2006 are eligible. Complainers in rape or sexual assault cases can apply to get the transcripts free of charge if they are applying in the following circumstances:  

  • The transcript is for a case heard in the High Court and it involved a charge(s) of rape and/or sexual assault.  
  • The trial commenced on or after 31 December 2006. This date is informed by the introduction of digital recording within the SCTS. 

This applies in cases where verdicts of guilty, not guilty and not proven are returned.

The guidance and application form will be made available on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

Transcripts of evidence in Criminal Trials are governed by Section 94(2) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 and the Transcripts of Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Order 1993 and these provisions will apply to applications made as part of the pilot. See Criminal proceedings transcripts for more information on how to request a transcript.

Victims and Witnesses Bill factsheet.


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