3 November 2009
Solicitor concerned over poor interpretation
Defence lawyer starts hiring his own translators
An Aberdeen defence solicitor is hiring his own interpreters rather than relying on the ones provided through the courts because of low interpretation standards.
Mike Monro said interpreters he had hired to act on behalf of clients had questioned the translations of those hired by the courts.
He expressed concerns as the Scottish Interpreters and Translators Association (Sita) warned there was a “serious risk” of miscarriage of justice and a “catastrophe waiting to happen”.
A source at Sita said expert interpreters were being “starved” out by low-cost unqualified interpreters who lack adequate English skills.
The source condemned a new £5.5million contract which came into force earlier this year, allowing just one agency, Global Language Services Ltd (GLS), to provide the overwhelming majority of interpretation work for the Scottish Courts Service and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
He said that GLS had now cut pay rates by 30-40% and cut travel expenses for assignments under 70 miles.
Mr Monro said: “I know that some people are concerned about the ability of some of the interpreters. There have also been some misgivings perhaps because of the low rates of pay on offer to the poor interpreters.
“It is very important that interpreters are up to the job – I now keep my own books of interpreters to call on for court proceedings because I know they are good. Interpreters should be paid at a rate that reflects the skilled job they do.”
Mr Monro, a member of Aberdeen Bar Association, said: “It is too early to say if the situation has worsened because of Global Language Services but I am aware of and have been involved in court cases even before this new tender where the sheriff has been concerned with the standards of interpreting.”
GLS managing director George Runciman said travel expenses for trips under 70 miles were cut because the Government wanted to use local interpreters.
He said: “Some interpreters have lost money because of the cuts in travel expenses but this is a competitive business and in this current economic climate, public funds for interpreting and translation services are tight. We work with set rates for court so everyone gets paid the same no matter what the experience.”