ALS/Capita subcontractor sent to court after admitting he had no qualifications or experience
A few weeks ago I went to a Crown Court in London to monitor the situation with a colleague of mine and we witnessed an interesting situation. In one hearing a Spanish wannabe interpreter struggled to take the oath. After that we could not believe our ears when listening to the dialogue that followed between him and the judge:
"I must tell you now that I cannot do simultaneous interpreting, I can do consecutive only", the interpreter said. The judge repeated the interpreter's words asking him if he had heard right. The interpreter continued: "That is why you have to speak slowly and pause so I can repeat to the defendant." "Who sent you here? The new agency?" "Yes". "Are you qualified to do this? Have you got any interpreting qualifications and the appropriate training?" "No. And I told the agency I did not have qualifications and I can't interpret..." (I can't remember all his words. I was in such a shock I could not believe what I was hearing and that I was so lucky to witness such an incident). "And what did the agency say when you told them so?" "They said it did not matter. They said I should come here." Then he added that he had interpreted on a few occasions but did not really know what to do. The judge explained to him what was expected of him, what he should do etc.
Then the interpreter went into the dock. A few seconds later he interrupted the hearing by raising his hands and shouting at the judge: "I can't hear!" Everybody was flabbergasted. The judge asked him: "Can you hear me now?" "A little bit better!" he screeched. "Can you hear me better now?" the judge asked him again, raising his voice. "Yes, but you have to speak slowly too."
The prosecutor talked and talked for ten minutes or so. The interpreter was keeping quiet and scribbling something in his notebook. Later on the interpreter narrated the story in a few words. Again about ten minutes of silence on his part were followed by a few short words to the poor defendant. Then I hear the clerk pointing out to the judge: "Your Honour, the interpreter is struggling."
The Court tried to accommodate the interpreter's needs and I am sorry I cannot say for sure how many words he eventually said and how many times he actually opened his mouth or whether the defendant could understand what was going on or not. He was visibly scared nearly as much as the interpreter himself. Both in the dock, both in unusual circumstances probably, and struggling to cope with the situation they were facing. Welcome to the mad world of ALS legal interpreting!