Dec 042016

My company offers a range of translation services but there are some in which we specialise:

1) Court interprreting: my business partner and I have appeared as court interpreters in every type of court, in the UK, the USA and Israel. Court interpreters, unlike lawyers, cannot specialise. They work on every type of case from parking in the wrong place to homicide. Some cases we have to handle, such as those involving divorce or sex crimes, are very distasteful, but we just have to keep our heads down and do the best job we can. As interpreters, we are not allowed to interfere in any way, give advice to a defendant or witness, etc. We are not “McKenzie friends”. This often annoys the person for whom we are interpreting but we cannot do otherwise if we are to maintain the trust of the judicial system. A court interpreter must be quick-witted, have an excellent command of both languages, speak clearly and fully understandably, and be able to sight-translate documents, a skill often demanded especially in commercial law cases. All of these are highly skilled talents that the judicial system in the UK consistently ignores. When Chris Grayling was Justice Minister he devised a “brilliant” scheme for cutting down on the expense of court interpreting, by handing it over lock, stock and barrel to some obscure agency on the Yorkshire Moors that instantly did a deal with Capita, who took over the whole thing. The government had plucked a figure out of the air – £12 million – as the potential savings of the scheme. In fact, it COST the taxpayer millions in inadequate interpreting, lost court time when an interpreter failed to turn up, remands in custody when no interpreter could be found,etc.

Capita has massive political influence and fought for years to retain the lucrative contract but in the end they lost out. That is not because sanity prevailed and court interpreting was again administered, as it had been in the past, by the various courts operating their own lists. No, the contract has now been handed to Thebigword, another translation agency one which will be using the same underpaid and underqualified interpreters as before with the same disastrous results.