Regulators should consider introducing a code of conduct for interpreters, a legal watchdog has advised, reporting that some interpreters have been acting as ‘introducers’ to law firms.

The Legal Services Consumer Panel says ‘better guidance is required around appropriate recruitment of interpreters and ensuring services meet acceptable standards’.

The panel was commissioned by the Legal Services Board to identify the areas of law it considered should be the priorities for the super-regulator’s work on ‘enabling demand for legal services to be met’.

Highlighting a ‘fragmented landscape’ in the area of asylum and immigration, the panel says it access to translators was raised as a problem, with examples of interpreters speaking the wrong language.

‘Where interpreters spoke the correct language, the evidence raised questions about the quality of interpretation as well as the role interpreters were playing – in some instances acting as introducers to law firms,’ the panel says.

The Employment Tribunal did not ‘misdirect’ itself when it dismissed two interpreters’ claims for racial discrimination against the Ministry of Justice, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Lord Justice Underhill restored a 2013 Employment Tribunal decision to dismiss proceedings brought by Dr Windle, of Czech origin, and Mr Arada, of Algerian origin, against the ministry for racial discrimination contrary to part 5 of the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits discrimination against ‘employees’.

The Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether the Employment Appeal Tribunal was right to find that the Employment Tribunal had ‘misdirected itself’ by treating the absence of an ‘umbrella’ contract as a relevant factor in the assessment of the claimants’ employment status.

The judgment states that although Windle and Arada had done ‘a good deal of work’ for HM Courts and Tribunals Service, they did so only on a case-by-case basis.

HMCTS was under no obligation to offer them work; nor were they obliged to accept it when offered. The interpreters were paid simply for work done, with no provision for holiday, sick pay, or pension. They considered themselves self-employed and were treated as such for tax purposes.

Windle and Arada claimed that ‘in various respects’ their terms were less generous than those accorded to British Sign Language interpreters. The judgment states the background to the claims was HM Courts & Tribunals’ decision in 2011 to outsource the provision of interpreter services under a ‘framework agreement’ with Applied Language Services, but that it ‘does not affect the legal issue’.

A Korean man found guilty of rape who claimed that he did not receive a fair trial because the interpreter at the trial “impeded” his ability to understand the proceedings has failed in an appeal against his conviction.

The Criminal Appeal Court refused the appeal after ruling that the appellant had not suffered any prejudice as a result of his alleged lack of understanding.

The Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lord Menzies and Lord Bracadale, heard that the appellant San Lee was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment in July 2014 after being convicted of rape following at trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The note of appeal raised the issue of whether the appellant had a fair trial in circumstances in which, having initially stated that he did not want an interpreter at all and then changing his mind, the interpreter impeded rather than improved his understanding of the proceedings.

The note also contended that the trial judge erred in her directions on “reasonable belief”.

The appellant, who came to the UK from Korea at the age of 14 with no English because of a desire to become a professional footballer, complained that the interpreter “had not been properly qualified” as he did not possess the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting.

Ministry of Justice figures show that more than 2,600 court cases have been affected over five years, as Capita withdraws from bidding for contract

More than 2,600 court cases have been adjourned over the past five years because of failures in the interpreting service, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice.

The extent of the problem was confirmed as doubts emerged about the viability of the troubled contract for interpreting services after the outsourcing firm Capita declined to bid for its renewal in October.

A war crimes trial at the Old Bailey collapsed last year and has had to be rescheduled because of problems over the quality of interpreting offered to the defendant, a Nepalese army officer.

The figures for the number of cases rescheduled since 2011, when the new contract paying lower rates came into effect, have been provided by the justice minister Lord Faulks.

In the magistrates courts, 2,524 trials have had to be adjourned because of the lack of an interpreter over the past five years. In the crown court, where costs are far greater, 137 trials have had to be adjourned because of interpreter difficulties. The cumulative expense of the adjournments was not recorded. 

Translators at Northamptonshire’s courts cost £167,000 last year​.


The county’s magistrates courts and Northampton Crown Court use Capita TI for face-to-face, telephone and written translation for defendants and witnesses.

Figures requested of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that the total cost of these to the tax payer was £167,000 from October 2014 to October 2015.

Translators at Northamptonshire’s courts cost £167,000 last year​.

The county’s magistrates courts and Northampton Crown Court use Capita TI for face-to-face, telephone and written translation for defendants and witnesses.

Figures requested of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that the total cost of these to the tax payer was £167,000 from October 2014 to October 2015.