Interpreter charge a reasonable change
A recent Supreme Court rule rightly says those who can afford it, should pay for court interpreters.

In Europe: 2013 Right to interpretation and translation. EU countries have until 27 October 2013 to implement the directive. (bellow)

USA: A new rule from the Michigan Supreme Court requires that all state courts provide foreign language interpreters to people with limited English ability — something that already is being done in many courts. Under the regulation, payment for the services will be based on a person's financial resources. Those who have the ability to pay will be asked to reimburse the courts for that expense.

The rule is sensible and fair, guaranteeing that everyone — from citizens to visitors from other countries — has access to either the criminal or civil courts.

Yet the U.S. Justice Department

may not approve of the new rule and could try to coerce the state into rescinding it. That's a mistake. If the feds do this, it will be a classic case of government overreach and needless meddling into the operation of Michigan's judicial system.

State justices are concerned because of conflicting messages sent by the federal government regarding interpreters. Michigan judges had been previously told to be reasonable and flexible but a recent letter from the Justice Department takes a more specific approach. That letter to judges states interpreter services should be provided to all, free of charge.

"The (Michigan) Supreme Court is very confident of its position," said Marcia McBrien, public information officer for the court. "We think we have a fair rule. We think this is also the kind of flexible standard the federal Department of Justice is looking for."

The new regulation provides free interpreter services to those whose income is less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level. The poverty income figures in the United States are $11,490 for a single person and $23,550 for a family of four. The state formula is consistent with income standards used by legal aid organizations and those guidelines courts use to appoint counsel for indigent defendants.

After that, individuals are being asked to reimburse the courts. However, the courts also have been given the flexibility to waive reimbursement if the expense makes it more difficult for individuals to defend themselves or pursue claims in civil court.

Ironically, the new state rule is in line with the policy used in the federal court system.

Statewide, it is estimated that local courts will pay $7 to $9 million for interpreters for low-income people. It is not known how much larger that figure would be if the service were free to individuals who can afford the expense.

It's not fair to force taxpayers to pay for interpreters when individuals can afford the service.

The new rule is expected to bring more consistency to the lower courts in providing interpreter services.

In these times of tight state and local budgets when every dollar needs to be monitored and spent wisely, providing the services free of charge to all people doesn't make sense.

From The Detroit News:


In Europe: 2013 Right to interpretation and translation. EU countries have until 27 October 2013 to implement the directive.

The EU is taking action to tackle the problem of varying standards and different levels of access to legal interpreting and translation available in criminal proceedings throughout its territory.

All EU countries are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - this is a requirement for joining the EU. The ECHR provides that anyone facing a criminal charge should be provided with the services of an interpreter, free of charge, if he/she doesn't understand the language of the proceedings.
Safeguarding the right to a fair trial

The 2010 Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings pdf was adopted in oder to rectify this situation.

In line with the requirements of the ECHR, as interpreted in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), it requires EU countries to put in place the following mechanisms:

It should be provided, free of charge, where necessary for the purpose of safeguarding the fairness of the proceedings. This includes:

police interrogation, essential meetings between client and lawyer, and at trial.

Remote interpretation via videoconference, telephone, or Internet can be used if the physical presence of the interpreter is not required to safeguard fairness.
Translation of essential documents

Suspected or accused persons who do not understand the language of the proceedings must be provided with a written translation of documents that are essential for them to exercise their right of defence. This includes:

the detention order,
the indictment, and
the judgment.

Quality control

A quality sufficient to ensure that suspected or accused persons have knowledge of the case against them and are able to exercise their right of defence is required.

To ensure that qualified legal interpreters and translators are available, EU countries are called on to set up a register of qualified translators and interpreters, and to make it available to legal counsels and relevant authorities.

To ensure efficient and effective communication, relevant training of judges, prosecutors and judicial staff must be provided.

EU countries have until 27 October 2013 to implement the directive.



UK Boss of court-translation firm Applied Language  Solutions hits back

The founder of a firm responsible for courtroom translations has vowed the service will improve in the wake of criticism from judges. Businessman Gavin Wheeldon – who set up Applied Language Solutions (ALS) nine years ago from his bedroom – won a £60m government contract to translate in English and Welsh courts.


The agency, based in Delph, near Oldham, began supplying staff to translate for foreign language witnesses and defendants last month. But hundreds of experienced interpreters are refusing to sign up to the service – complaining of poor rates of pay and conditions. Judges and solicitors say the switch-over has seen dozens of cases cancelled because the stretched agency has been unable to find enough staff. Mr Wheeldon, 35, insisted the firm DID have enough staff – and initial problems were being addressed.

He said: "Throughout the tender process, the Ministry of Justice has understood that there would be turbulence. This is a big change. It is inevitable that not everything is going to go smoothly on day one." Mr Wheeldon, who has appeared on TV shows Dragon’s Den and Secret Millionaire, supplies foreign language translators to Greater Manchester Police and other forces. Last August, his company won the ‘one-stop’ contract to supply translators to English and Welsh courts. He added: "When we won the contract for all the north-west police forces, the first six weeks saw similar disruptions. They knew it and they understood it but we quickly bedded in and got up to 98 per cent service delivery with them. They now enjoy a much higher service than they did before." Court translators were previously paid £30 an hour, with three hours guaranteed, along with paid travel.

ALS pays up to £27 for the first hour and £22 an hour after that – although less-qualified staff receive as little as £16 per hour. Translators claim the new deal works out as little as half their previous rate.

But Mr Wheeldon, who is ALS chief executive after selling the firm to Capita in a deal worth £68m, defended his rates. He said the changes would result in savings for the taxpayer. He said: "Previously, every court would have a list of interpreters and agencies and ring around until they found somebody. There were no records kept of how well that interpreter performed or which were unreliable. The efficiency in it was abysmal. The new system will provide proper efficiency and management information." ALS directly employs 130 staff in Britain and abroad – although it has around 3,900 freelance translators on its register. Ministers ordered courts across the country to switch to a single provider to save £18m. But dozens of complaints have been filed to the government since the contract came into force on February 1. Manchester Crown Court Judge Martin Steiger QC slammed ALS as ‘very unsatisfying’ – hitting out after the sentencing of a sex offender from India was postponed twice when interpreters for the agency failed to turn up. He was so outraged he said he had considered putting the firm in the dock for contempt. Judge Steiger said there had been no way to contact the interpreters who failed to attend the two previous hearings and ALS had not been able to explain their absence. The sentencing went ahead on the third attempt, when an interpreter attended. A trial at Leeds Crown Court had to be called off and rescheduled because no one was available to translate for the Czech defendant, with the judge slamming the cost of rescheduling the case. Solicitor Robert Moussalli, a lawyer with 20 years' experience from Manchester firm Burton Copeland, said he was ‘unimpressed’ by some of the replacement interpreters sent by the agency. ALS denies sending untrained agents to court – and says all its translators undergo rigorous tests. Justice minister Crispin Blunt told MPs last week there were ‘unacceptable delays’ with the contract. The Ministry of Justice, which has temporarily allowed courts to hire their own interpreters directly, said it was monitoring the situation daily. A spokesman said: "There have been an unacceptable number of problems in the first weeks of the contract and we have asked the contractor to take urgent steps to improve performance. They have put measures in place to resolve these issues and we have already seen a marked improvement." by Yakub Qureshi

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Presse release of the acquisition:

23 December 2011

           Capita acquires translation and interpreting specialists            

                          Applied Language Solutions                          

The Capita Group Plc announces today that it has acquired Applied Language Solutions Ltd (`ALS'). ALS provides translation and interpreting services to the public and private sector, with clients including Google, Sony and Caterpillar.

In August 2011 ALS was awarded a framework agreement with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The MoJ and its partners, including Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service, the Crown Prosecution Service, Her Majesty's Prison Service
and police forces across England and Wales, will be able to sign contracts under the agreement for the delivery of interpreting and translation services.
The framework is expected to deliver cost savings in excess of £60m over 5 years, greatly reducing the criminal justice sector's spend in this area.

Capita is acquiring ALS for £7.5m, on a cash free, debt-free basis, with a further contingent consideration of up to £60m, based on profit performance and staged over the next 4 years. The latter consideration is based on ALS
achieving growth targets in line with the successful roll-out of the MoJ contract and greater penetration of the UK language services market.

ALS made a pro forma operating loss for its financial year to May 2011 of £0.3m on turnover of £10.6m.

Capita Group Chief Executive, Paul Pindar, said: 'The acquisition adds a new service to the range of those the Capita Group is able to offer to both the public and private sectors. By combining ALS's specialist skills and proprietary technology with Capita's operational expertise and balance sheet we believe that this will allow us to become a very strong player in the language services industry. There are excellent opportunities for organic growth both in the UK and internationally.'

ALS, which will form a new standalone business within the Capita Group, has around 130 employees based in the UK, India, Europe and the US and contracts 17,000 translators across the globe.