MoJ and ALS, a risky match

A leit motive in February was the news that Applied Language Solutions (ALS) has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to provide court interpreters for England and Wales. If you want to read some articles about what has been happening, this is a good place to start with.

There are mainly two points I am concerned with:

1) I firmly believe the UK had an excellent certification programme and search system for court interpreters. When I was working as a Project Manager, I used the National Register of Public Service Interpreters several times and I was always happy with it. I find the search function user-friendly as well as the way to display results. If there had been no system at all to find qualifies court interpreters, maybe a contract with ALS would be a good starting point, but in this case I think the system in place was effective.

2) We have already seen what happened in Ireland a few years ago. Lionbridge has been providing interpreters for the Irish courts since March 2007. Many cases have been reported where unqualified interpreters failed to understand what the defendant was saying or only translated half of what was being said.

ITIA, the Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association, had already raised some issues in the summer of 2007 regarding the need to hire professional interpreters and to provide them with adequate training.

 Now the Board of Directors of the National register of Public Interpreters will be writing to the Ministry of Justice in the next few days to raise their concerns with them. In the meantime, on the Linguist Lounge (ALS’s dedicated website for UK court interpreters wishing to work for them), people talk about an intimidation campaign by interpreters who are against the agreement between MoJ and ALS.

Harsh words… as well as harsh times, both for court interpreters and those in need of them. Any thoughts on this or experiences you want to share, dear readers?


About Chiara Vecchi

A blogging translator working from English and German into Italian. You are more than welcome to visit my blog!
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