Courts: Interpreters

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 13th June 2018.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what safeguards his Department has in place to ensure that contracted interpreters for courts and tribunals are appropriately qualified and competent in the use of (a) the foreign language they are translating into English, (b) the English language, (c) English law and (d) English and Welsh judiciary's legal terms; and what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of those safeguards.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Ministry is committed to ensuring the justice system is supported by a suite of high quality language service contracts, that meet the needs of all those that require them.

It has a clearly defined list of qualifications, skills, experience and vetting requirements interpreters must meet, set out in each of the contracts it has with its suppliers of language services, which have been designed to meet the needs of the justice system. All interpreters are also required to complete a justice system specific training course before they are permitted to join the ministry’s interpreter register.

The ministry’s contractors are required to hold evidence of these credentials, which are subject to an additional safeguard in the form of an annual audit conducted by The Language Shop (part of the London Borough of Newham), the department’s supplier of independent language service quality assurance.

The Language Shop undertakes additional processes to assure the quality of interpreting provided to the ministry, including the management of its register of interpreters, conducting a programme of assessments for interpreters, and conducting an annual audit of supplier processes for onboarding new linguists.

The complaint rate is monitored closely as part of a robust contract governance processes. The rate remains low which suggests there is no systemic issue with the quality of interpreting provided.

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