Attorney Responsibility for Reporter Fees

The issue of who's responsible for the bill - the attorney or the attorney's client - has dogged the reporting profession for decades. Traditionally, courts have held that the attorney is an agent and thus is not personally liable for contracts made on behalf of a principal unless there is an express agreement to the contrary.

However, in recent years, courts have been following a modified view of this maxim. If the attorney does not disclaim responsibility, he or she is viewed as the principal because the attorney controls the litigation. In addition to the primary argument of a modified agency theory, custom and usage have also been mentioned in various court rulings that favor reporters.

In order to provide additional support to those reporters or reporting firms facing the challenge of collecting payment from attorneys, NCRA has adopted the following "Policy on Attorney Responsibility for Reporter Fees":

"NCRA advocates that attorneys are liable for court reporting fees unless they expressly disclaim liability in advance. This policy conforms with the modified agency rule adopted in the majority of states with respect to court reporter fees that takes into account custom and usage and modern litigation practices in which attorneys, rather than their clients, handle and maintain control over all aspects of litigation, including hiring reporter and other expert services."

Reporters can make use of this policy as another tool at their disposal when attempting to obtain compensation for services provided.