Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from Emery Johnson Solicitors

The following submissions are made on behalf of Emery Johnson solicitors, a crime, family and child care law practice based in Leicester.

These submissions are made in relation to the standard of service provided by Applied Language Solutions (ALS) in their provision of interpreters in the courts.

It is submitted that ALS have caused unnecessary delay by not giving interpreters appropriate time markings for court hearings.

It is submitted that the interpreters provided by ALS do not always have sufficient language skills for the role.

It is further submitted that ALS do not always supply an interpreter with knowledge of the most appropriate language.

It is submitted that the failure by ALS to supply appropriate interpreters causes unnecessary delay to cases and is infringement on the rights of defendants and other parties to cases who are unable to follow proceedings in English.

The following issues have been experienced due to the failure by ALS to provide an appropriate service.

1.A Plea & Case Management Hearing was listed at Leicester Crown Court in May 2012 for a defendant who required a Punjabi interpreter. The interpreter did not arrive in time for the hearing to begin promptly at 10am. This caused the hearing to be put back to the afternoon. The interpreter then stated that as she had only been booked for the morning she would be unable to stay for the hearing. ALS were unable to provide a further interpreter. As a result the case was put back by one day. As the defendant was in custody this meant he had to be transported to and from the prison on both occasions.

A request was made that the interpreter booked for the following day attend at 9:30 am to allow sufficient time for the defendant to be seen by his legal representatives prior to the hearing. This request was refused on the basis that interpreter bookings were not available prior to 10am.

2.At the trial of the same defendant in August 2012 an interpreter was provided who had acted for the client at the Police station, it is recommended that the same interpreter is not used at the police station and at court unless there is difficulty in finding an alternative interpreter, and all parties have agreed to the same interpreter being used. It was not necessary, or agreed, to instruct the same interpreter in this case and as a result a further interpreter had to be called.

3.At the same trial the interpreter provided for the complainant was found to be altering and substantially adding to the complainant’s evidence. As a result the jury was discharged, and the trial adjourned for 10 months. The inaccuracy in translation was spotted by a Police Officer present in the court, the defendant’s interpreter and the complainant.

4.At a Plea & Case Management Hearing at Manchester Crown Court in December 2011, the defendant required a Portuguese interpreter. The interpreter provided by ALS spoke Brazilian Portuguese and was unable to fully and accurately interpret for the Portuguese defendant.

5.Due to the problem experienced at PCMH a specific request was made that an interpreter who spoke European Portuguese be provided for the trial in August 2012. The interpreter provided spoke a regional dialect and was unable to simultaneously translate for the defendant.

6.At a hearing at Nottingham Crown Court in June 2012 only one interpreter was provided for two defendants with conflicting interests. This interpreter had only been booked for the morning session despite a distinct possibility the hearing would be heard in the afternoon. The interpreter was unaware she was required to take an oath in court.

7.A trial at the Loughborough Magistrates court in June 2012 had to be adjourned due to the interpreters failure to attend. When informed of the interpreter’s failure to attend, ALS were unable to make contact with the interpreter or provide an alternative interpreter.

8.At a trial at Leicester Crown Court in August 2012 a Roma interpreter was requested for the defendant. ALS did not provide a Roma interpreter, and instead provided an interpreter who spoke Romanian.

September 2012

Prepared 5th February 2013