Interpreters in Criminal Investigations and Proceedings
On 30 January 2012 courts and tribunals across England and Wales started using a new interpreter service through a single agency, Applied Language Solutions.
The National Agreement on Arrangements for the Use of Interpreters below provides clear and detailed guidance for all agencies on the procedures to follow at each stage of the criminal justice process where an interpreter may be required. In view of the new interpreter service a rider document has been produced to update the guidance from 2007.
National Agreement 2011 rider (PDF 0.04mb)
Interpreters in Civil and Family Proceedings
Deaf and Hearing impaired Litigants
Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service will meet the reasonable costs of interpreters for deaf and hearing-impaired litigants for hearings in civil and family proceedings.
Many people have a friend or relative who usually interpret for them. If the deaf person wants such a person to interpret for them, they will need to ask for permission from the Judge. The Judge must be satisfied that the friend or relative can exactly interpret what is being said to the court and what the court is saying to the deaf person.
Unless the relative or friend has a recognised qualification in relaying information between deaf and hearing people, it may be better to use a qualified interpreter. The friend or relative may still be able to attend and provide support, but permission should be sought from the Judge first.
If an interpreter is needed, the court will make arrangements for an interpreter to attend.
Foreign language interpreters
Court staff will also arrange for language interpreters needed for civil and family hearings in certain circumstances where cases involve:
Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service has a legal obligation under the Human Rights Act to provide language interpreters. They will ensure that anyone attending a committal case, has the free assistance of an interpreter if he/she cannot understand or speak the language used in court.
Domestic Violence and cases involving Children
Because of the sensitivity of these cases, Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service will provide an interpreter if required. This is irrespective of whether solicitors are involved or public funding is available.
Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service will provide an interpreter if that is the only way that a litigant can take part in a hearing. The relevant circumstances are:
Where the person:
- Cannot speak or understand the language of the court well enough to take part in the hearing
- Cannot get public funding.
- Cannot afford to privately fund an interpreter, and has no family member, or friend, who can attend to interpret for them and who is acceptable to the court.
If the case is publicly funded, Community Legal Service funding may be available. If the case is privately funded parties have to supply their own interpreters.
For foreign language interpreters in any court proceedings HMCTS arranges and pays for interpreters in accordance with a standard set of terms and conditions.
Welsh Language Interpreters
The Welsh Language Act 1993 provides the right for any party to speak Welsh in legal proceedings in Wales (criminal, civil and tribunals hearings). As soon as it is known that the Welsh language is to be used at a hearing details should be provided to HMCTS’ Welsh Language Unit by e-mailing email@example.com who will arrange a Welsh interpreter from the list of those who have successfully sat examinations in simultaneous interpretation. Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service is responsible for paying the interpreter's fees.